Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Your Psoriasis Treatment

Sarah Markel | Sep 29th 2016 Apr 10th 2017

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Psoriasis, an autoimmune disease of the skin, nails, and joints, affects about 7.5 million adults and children in the United States. While there is no cure, many treatments are available to manage symptoms. To help you get the most out of your next medical appointment, we’ve created a list of questions to ask your doctor about your psoriasis treatment.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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Which psoriasis treatments are right for me?

The good news is, there are several options available! These fall into four categories: topical treatments, light therapy, traditional systemic medications, and biologic drugs. When selecting a treatment, factors to consider include disease severity, clinical efficacy, potential side effects of the medicine, whether a treatment is covered by insurance, and how it will affect your lifestyle.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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Can I choose a psoriasis treatment to fit my lifestyle?

Psoriasis is a chronic condition that can have a significant effect on quality of life, and though there are many therapeutic options available, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some treatments involve learning to give yourself an injection. Others require frequent medical appointments. To determine a treatment plan that meets your goals, it’s important to work with your doctor.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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How can I find a dermatologist trained to treat psoriasis?

Finding the right treatment for psoriasis can take time; with many treatments available, each has benefits, drawbacks, and potential side effects. A doctor trained specifically in the management of psoriasis can help you build a care plan that works for you. The American Academy of Dermatology offers an online tool to help you find a dermatologist who specializes in psoriasis.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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What new treatments for psoriasis are on the horizon?

Researchers are investigating several promising treatments for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, including creating personalized vaccines made from a patient’s own immune cells. Participating in a clinical trial can be a great way of accessing medicine that is not yet commercially available. But be sure to talk to your doctor first to find out if joining a clinical trial is right for you.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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What are the side effects of psoriasis treatments?

Each treatment has different potential side effects. Topical steroids can cause thinning of the skin. Phototherapy can cause sunburn and increase your risk of skin cancer. Systemic therapies, such as cyclosporine, can cause headaches, seizures, and vomiting. Talk to your doctor about any side effects that you may be experiencing or may experience when starting a particular treatment.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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How can I make informed decisions about my psoriasis treatment?

If you’re uncomfortable, keep asking questions. Many people with psoriasis have concerns about drug safety, especially when it comes to systemic medications. Research suggests that fear of side effects is one of the reasons psoriasis is often undertreated. The National Psoriasis Foundation offers a guide to addressing the fear of medication side effects.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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Are there programs to help me pay for my psoriasis treatments and medicines?

The cost of psoriasis treatments can range from a few hundred dollars for topical medication, to tens of thousands of dollars for some of the biologic therapies. If you cannot afford your psoriasis treatment, you may be eligible for financial assistance. The National Psoriasis Foundation also offers a list of public and private programs to help provide treatment access.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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Is phototherapy still an effective treatment for psoriasis?

Therapeutic doses of ultraviolet light, either as a stand-alone treatment or as an adjunct to other medications, are still used to control psoriasis. However, Excimer laser therapy, which allows doctors to target specific lesions with high doses of ultraviolet light, has been shown to clear psoriasis plaques with significantly fewer treatments than traditional phototherapy.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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Does a diagnosis of psoriasis put me at risk for other serious health conditions?

Research has shown that people with psoriasis are at greater risk of developing certain diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and other autoimmune diseases.  Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis may also develop psoriatic arthritis. Due to increased risk, it is important to receive screening for these conditions.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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How will treating my psoriasis change as I age?

As the skin ages, the treatments that worked at one time may no longer be effective. Treating psoriasis in older adults can be particularly challenging, due to interactions with medications used to treat their other health conditions. In addition, some medications, such as ACE Inhibitors, which are used to treat hypertension, can exacerbate psoriasis.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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Can psoriasis be the cause of depression?

People with psoriasis are more likely to experience depression than the general population. The biologic changes triggered by the condition are linked to depression, and treatments such as corticosteroids, can cause depression. Also, the stress of living with psoriasis can become a contributing factor. Speak with your doctor about any changes in mood you may be experiencing.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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Can I pass psoriasis on to my baby?

The cause of psoriasis is not known, but researchers believe both environmental factors and genetics play a role in the disease. If one parent has psoriasis, there is an increased chance of a child having the disease. Some of the treatments for psoriasis are not safe during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if you think you may be pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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How can I meet other people who are living well with psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a relapsing disease, which means it comes and goes at unpredictable times. Building a network of people living with the condition can help you manage your triggers, discover new treatments, and overcome side effects. The National Psoriasis Foundation blog features personal stories and a message board; HealthCentral offers a Psoriasis Community Page on Facebook.

Download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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How can I get the most out of my appointment with my health care provider?

Preparing for your medical appointment can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about new medicine, side effects, and how soon you can expect to see results. To help you remember the symptoms and questions you want to discuss, download the HealthCentral Psoriasis Physician Discussion Guide.

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