Oral Psoriasis Medications

Psoriasis can be a frustrating condition that causes dry, scaly patches of skin on various parts of the body. While there are several topical medications that can help minimize symptoms once they appear, there are also oral medications that can help keep psoriasis under control before symptoms even flare up. The top oral medications for psoriasis include Otezla (apremilast), Acitretin (Soriatane) and methotrexate (Trexall), though several other medications exist. If you're suffering from psoriasis and are frustrated with topical treatments, check out the following questions and answers to learn about these top medications that can help, as well as other oral medications your doctor may recommend. 

What is Otezla and how can it help with psoriasis?

Otezla is a prescription medication that works by regulating inflammation within the immune cells by inhibiting an enzyme called phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), which controls inflammation within the cells. This can correct an overactive immune response that commonly causes inflammation in people with psoriasis, which can improve symptoms such as scaliness and redness.

What are the side effects of Otezla?

Side effects of Otezla may include nausea, headache, upper respiratory infection and diarrhea. In some cases, depression and a decrease in weight may also occur. However, side effects of Otezla are generally mild. If you're concerned about side effects of this medication, talk to your doctor for more information.

What is Acitretin and how can it help with psoriasis?

Acitretin is an oral retinoid medication, which is a form of vitamin A, and is the only oral retinoid medication used for psoriasis in adults. Because this medication may cause serious side effects, it is typically only used for a short time to help  control flare ups.

What are the side effects of Acitretin?

Side effects of Acitretin may include hair loss, dry mouth, chapped lips, changes in mood and behavior, depression, aggressive thoughts, joint pain and headaches. In some cases, Acitretin can cause liver damage, so it's important to talk to your doctor about all possible side effects and keep regular doctor's appointments while taking this medication.

What is methotrexate and how does it treat psoriasis?

Methotrexate is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called antimetabolites, which can help slow the growth of skin cells and stop plaques or scales from forming. This is the most common medication used for severe forms of psoriasis when other medications and treatments have failed to control symptoms.

What are the side effects of methotrexate?

Side effects of methotrexate may include chills, fever, nausea, stomach pain, tiredness, hair loss, headaches, redness of the eyes, loss of appetite and tender gums. Your doctor may ask you to take folic acid to help offset certain side effects. In rare cases, methotrexate can have serious and life-threatening side effects. Be sure to talk to your doctor about any and all side effects before taking this medication.

What other medications are available to treat psoriasis?

Other medications include cyclosporine and apremilast. Your doctor can help you decide which medication is best for you and your psoriasis symptoms.

Can I use oral medications in addition to topical treatments?

In some cases, oral medications may be paired with topical medications and other treatments. Talk to your doctor to determine whether you can combine oral medications with topical treatments to help control your psoriasis symptoms.

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