What are the side effects associated with medical psoriasis treatments?
Below we discuss some of the common conventional treatments for Psoriasis and their associated side effects
The first thing to realise is that steroids don’t cure anything! They merely suppress the symptoms. (That’s exactly why they work so fast!) Sometimes, they help people to feel better but this comes at a high price and, over time, your body becomes immune to them, meaning larger more dangerous doses are required.
Steroids can be absorbed through the skin and affect a person’s whole body, including internal organs. This happens if a topical steroid is grossly misused, i.e., applied to widespread areas of skin, used over long periods of time, or with improper occlusion of potent steroids. For this reason, a doctor should monitor the use of topical steroids.
Possible side effects associated with chronic and prolonged use of topical corticosteroids include skin atrophy, stretch marks and red spots. Rarely, heavy long-term use can cause a suppression of the adrenal glands. Additionally, resistance can develop if steroids are used over an extended period of time. In an effort to reduce the risk of side effects and resistance, your doctor may recommend that you take periodic breaks from the drug. A safe dose should not exceed more than 50 or 60 grams a week
The following warning on the potential risks of two popular steriod-based eczema drugs Elidel and Protopic can be found on the website of the U.S FDA at:
Tazarotene is a selective retinoid with properties that are similar to vitamin A.
Side effects include redness and burning. It should not be used in women who wish to become pregnant.
Coal tar is safer than corticosteroids, but it is not used as often because it has limited effectiveness, it irritates the skin, and has an unpleasant odor and can stain skin and clothing
Tars are made from the distillation of coal and wood.
If You are still considering using coal tar products and do not mind the mess, take note of the following News Flash dated January 2002.
“It may be more difficult to find OTC tar medications in California, due to state guidelines regarding tar. As of January 2002, OTC coal tar shampoos, lotions and creams that contain more than 0.5% coal tar are required to be labeled with cancer warnings.”
The following is what the National Psoriasis Foundation has to say about Anthralin
Anthralin has a long history as a safe treatment for psoriasis, but it can also be messy to use, as it tends to stain anything it touches–skin, clothing, bedding and bathroom fixtures, for example. Different regimens and formulations of anthralin may make the medication easier for patients to use at home.
Some practical guidelines for home use of anthralin include:
Apply anthralin only to psoriasis; do not apply to unaffected skin. You may prefer to use plastic disposable gloves to apply anthralin.
Anthralin cream should be rubbed in well, and any excess should be wiped off.
Expect to see a brown stain on the surrounding skin if the anthralin comes into contact with the unaffected skin. This is a good sign and indicates that the anthralin is working. When the stain occurs in the center of a lesion, the psoriasis is clearing. Stains on skin and hair will eventually fade and disappear.
Use old clothing and sheets when anthralin is on skin. Protective dressings (occlusion) can be used, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. If staining occurs, rinse with water and do not use soap (see tips for stain removal on page 9).
Wash hands after applying anthralin.
Do not apply anthralin near eyes, on the face or in the groin area. Do not rub eyes with anthralin-contaminated fingers. Should eye irritation occur, rinse eyes with water and consult your doctor.
Anthralin must be fresh to work effectively. Fresh anthralin paste or cream is bright yellow. The shelf life of paste anthralin is about six months.
Follow your health care provider’s instructions when using anthralin. There are many ways in which it can be used. Always check with your doctor about precautions to take while using this medication.
Anthralin is known to be a skin irritant, and the irritation a patient experiences is directly related to the strength of the product being used and the individual’s tolerance of the medication. Normally, anthralin is not used on the face or on extremely inflamed psoriasis lesions.
In addition, is not known if anthralin is safe during pregnancy. Women who become pregnant and are using anthralin should consult with their health care provider.
Side effects of anthralin include:
Irritation and discoloration of the skin that is not affected by psoriasis. (Take care to apply the product only to the skin affected by psoriasis, not to normal skin.)
A purple-brown stain on the skin. The discolored skin may go away within 3 weeks after you stop using the drug.
A deep red-brown color of the skin, which develops from the inflammation of psoriasis. It may take weeks or months to go away.
In addition (as an added bonus), anthralin may permanently stain fabrics, showers, countertops, sinks, and other materials.
PUVA treatment (pronounced “poova”)
PUVA (Psoralen UVA) combines UVA exposure with a photosensitizing agent, taken internally or as a bath. The photosensitizing agent allows for a lower dose of UVA. PUVA treatments can be highly effective, but recent studies strongly suggest it poses A THREAT OF SKIN DAMAGE AND CANCER.
The following list of the side effects associated with PUVA can be found on the website of the NPF at http://www.psoriasis.org/treatment/psoriasis/phototherapy/puva.php
The list goes on and on, down to
Methotrexate is a treatment taken by pill, liquid or injection – which suppresses the immune system just enough to control the psoriasis……….. Patients taking methotrexate must be closely monitored because this drug can cause liver damage or damage the blood producing bone marrow. Alcoholics and patients with long-term medical problems cannot take this drug.
Methotrexate should not be used in pregnancy, as it can be toxic to the embryo and can cause fetal defects and spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). It should be discontinued prior to conception if used in either partner. Male patients should stop taking methotrexate at least 3 months prior to a planned conception and females should discontinue use for at least one ovulatory cycle before conception.
SIDE EFFECTS: The most frequent reactions include mouth sores, stomach upset, and low white blood counts and it can cause severe toxicity of the liver and bone marrow, which require regular monitoring with blood testing. It can also cause headache and drowsiness, itching, skin rash, dizziness, and hair loss.
The safe alternative – Psoriasis Treatments
Safe alternative treatments for Psoriasis include M-Folia – which simply uses a special plant extract (Mahonia aquifolium) shown to contain very potent alkaloids and constituents that promote healthy skin. For more information on M-Folia Psoriasis Treatment
The other Psoriasis Treatment considered very safe is UVB Light Treatment which uses a gentle UV spectrum that helps Psoriasis without the intensity of PUVA treatment. For more information UV Light Treatment for Psoriasis
NOTICE & DISCLAIMER
This information is given in good faith and for information purposes only. No liability is accepted for any inaccuracies that may be present. It is recommended that you consult a health professional about any medicines or treatments that you may be prescribed.