There’s more than one way to address your dry, flaky patches of skin.
If you’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis, there’s a good chance your dermatologist has prescribed a topical steroid treatment to help get it under control. Many doctors and patients find them to be a reliable short-term option for the dry, flaky patches of skin known as plaques. However, a recent story about a woman’s adverse reaction to using topical steroids long-term may have those with psoriasis wondering if there might be alternative treatments that could help them avoid similar side effects, while also effectively relieving their symptoms.
“Steroids work by reducing inflammation in the skin,” says New York City dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, explaining why it’s such a common treatment for psoriasis. “However, long-term use can be associated with more harm than good. Steroids have been shown to cause thinning of the skin, stretch marks, and pimples.” Plus, your skin can get used to the steroid, making it less effective over time; it’s a phenomenon called tachyphylaxis, a condition that can lead to significant redness and inflammation.
Although some topical steroids have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use up to six months, generally speaking, experts warn that topical steroids should not be used for more than two weeks in a row. But if the risk of side-effects has you looking for an entirely different treatment option, there are several alternatives to topical steroids when it comes to treating psoriasis.
1. Topical Vitamin D
According to Zeichner, abnormal cell turnover leads to the white, flaky plaques that are characteristic of psoriasis. “Topical vitamin D creams are thought to help normalize cell turnover in psoriasis,” he says. Therefore, topical vitamin D compounds are a common treatment for psoriasis, either used alongside topical steroids or instead of them.
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