Psoriasis develops when the immune system mistakenly attacks the skin cells, causing red, scaly, or painful patches to appear. During remission, the immune system stops these attacks, and the skin has time to heal.
Psoriasis treatments and lifestyle changes can bring about remission, but when and how it occurs is different for everyone. Read on to learn more about achieving and maintaining psoriasis remission.
What to expect with psoriasis remission
Cycles of remission and symptom flare-ups are common with psoriasis.
Psoriasis remission may occur as a result of treatment. However, it is difficult to predict how a person’s psoriasis will behave over time and how it will respond to treatment.
Some people may experience spontaneous remission, which happens for no apparent reason.
During remission, some people will notice a marked reduction in symptoms, while others may find that their skin becomes completely clear. However, symptoms usually come back at some point, even for those who continue their treatment program.
Mild-to-moderate psoriasis may improve after using creams or ointments, such as:
- calcineurin inhibitors to stop inflammation and plaque formation
- coal tar for scaling, itching, and inflammation
- corticosteroids to relieve inflammation and itching
- moisturizing creams to reduce itching and dryness
- salicylic acid, which removes dead skin cells and scaly skin
- topical retinoids, which are derivatives of vitamin A that reduce inflammation
- vitamin D analogs, which are synthetic forms of vitamin D
Not all of these medications are suitable for everyone. Some retinoids are unsuitable for use during pregnancy, for example. Many people will require a combination of treatments for effective psoriasis control.
Phototherapy, or light therapy, uses ultraviolet (UV) light to reduce psoriasis symptoms. The extent of the treatment can range from exposure to natural sunlight to receiving controlled doses of artificial UVB rays at a clinic or doctor’s office.
People who wish to use light therapy should speak to their doctor about the benefits and potential side effects, which include skin dryness, nausea, and a rash.
People with severe psoriasis may need to use oral or injected medicines, which are systemic treatments. These medications include:
- biologics, which alter immune system function
- cyclosporine, which suppresses the immune system
- methotrexate to slow down skin cell formation and reduce inflammation
- oral retinoids or vitamin A derivatives
Systemic treatments can have severe side effects, so people typically use them alongside topical creams or light therapy and only take them for short periods.
Lifestyle changes and home remedies
The most important lifestyle change that people with psoriasis can make is to avoid triggers, which might include cold weather, stress, or smoking.
People may also wish to try the following home remedies. While they will not cure psoriasis, they may reduce itching, dryness, and other types of discomfort:
- applying aloe vera gel to reduce redness and itching
- avoiding alcohol and tobacco
- bathing in colloidal oatmeal or Epsom salts
- taking omega-3 supplements to treat inflammation
- using moisturizer every day, especially during the winter months, to treat dry skin
Psoriasis tends to occur in waves of flares and remission. Although psoriasis is a lifelong condition, people can reduce the duration and severity of flares using treatments and lifestyle changes.
People with psoriasis are likely to have the best chance of achieving remission if they avoid triggers and discuss treatment options with a doctor. Many different treatments are available for psoriasis, and a person may need to try several before they find what works best for them.
Even when psoriasis symptoms return, people can use home remedies and topical ointments to minimize their appearance and the discomfort that they cause.
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