What to Do When Your Psoriasis Gets Worseby Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer
Sometimes a treatment regimen just stops working. This happened to me last summer, when my psoriasis, which had been confined to my arms, moved to my legs. It was a game changer for me: I grew more self-conscious, my mood suffered, my skin felt itchier, and my joints were achier than ever. I felt demoralized. But I also knew that if I had any hope of getting better, I’d have to summon up my positivity and get proactive. It was the only way.
I took stock, accepted my situation, and moved on from there. Acceptance does not mean defeat. I kept my sanity by acknowledging my condition as it was. When my treatment regimen failed, I spent time observing the physical and emotional changes I was going through. That focus helped me prepare for a new psoriasis treatment plan.
Call Your Doctor
Make an appointment with your healthcare provider or team. Your general practitioner, rheumatologist, or dermatologist will get you up to speed on the new treatment options available for psoriasis. “There are exciting new prescription medications on the market,” says Tamy Buckel, M.D., a dermatologist with the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown.
Do Your Research
After I met with my doctor to discuss my options, I began to research them. I assessed the ones that would require routine bloodwork, the ones to be taken orally, and those that required injection. I also researched the side-effects of every treatment that was suggested.
Weigh the Risks and Benefits
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, medication warning labels can be a cause for concern, but patients who are dealing with significant pain and suffering usually want to treat their symptoms with more than creams. Comparing a treatment’s risks with how success might feel is an important exercise before taking the next step in your treatment. Your doctor can help.
Commit to the Process
You need to fortify that hard-won positive mindset as you move forward with your treatment plan. The best new treatments for you may require more effort, cause more discomfort, or cost more than you’re used to. Truth be told, I stopped my new treatment as soon as I felt a bit better, and then my symptoms returned, full-blown, a few months later. I immediately returned to the treatment, this time with a commitment to continue it for at least a year so I could see the full results.
Once you try a new treatment, prepare to wait for results. Some treatments for psoriasis can take months to kick in. “The new medications primarily act by disrupting the signal to the immune system that is causing the inflammation of the skin and joints. It’s important to be patient…since it can take up to 12 weeks to see improvement,” says Dr. Buckel.
Keep Your Doctor in the Loop
Shortly after beginning a new regimen, give your doctor or medical team an update, including any side effects. (You can probably do this over email without an appointment.) When I began my new treatment plan, my condition improved, but I developed GI issues. Together with my medical team, I decided to stay on the same medication but reduce the dosage to control the side-effects.
Track Your Progress
Once a reasonable period of time has passed (ask your doctor when you should expect to see results from your particular treatment), check your body. What percentage of your skin is clear? A group of more than 30 experts has set specific treatment goals establishing the new standard of care for psoriasis: after three months, your skin should be clear or almost clear of psoriasis. It should not cover more than one percent your body.
Believe That You Can Get Better
Nine months after meeting with my doctor to discuss my options, I am in complete remission. And I am not alone. The majority of people who have tried some of the newer treatment options have reached remission. When the “clear skin” goal is reached, it’s a victory that involves more than your skin. Reducing inflammation there can reduce inflammation elsewhere in the body, leading to better overall health, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.