What causes psoriasis, and how do I treat it? So far, lotion helps control the itching, but the redness and roughness are only getting worse.
Fort Worth, Texas
Psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that occurs when skin cells grow too quickly, affects about 6 million Americans. Its symptoms include red, raised patches of skin that may itch, burn, and crack. Although the cure is not yet known, many cases are controlled with lotions, light therapy, and prescription medicines such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, and Soriatane (acitretin) to reduce inflammation and smooth the skin. When psoriasis covers large areas of the body, frequent (sometimes weekly) injections of immune-suppressing drugs, such as Amevive, Enbrel, Humira, or Remicade may be recommended.
Adults suffering from moderate to severe psoriasis might be candidates for Stelara, a new drug that received FDA approval in the fall of 2009. Stelara (ustekinumab), targets specific components of the immune system to block overproduction of skin cells and reduce inflammation.
“It is the first drug therapy that requires just four shots a year,” says Dr. Mark Lebwohl, chairman of the Department of Dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Stelara study investigator. “The approved treatment schedule is two injections four weeks apart, followed by injections every 12 weeks. Four weeks after the first injection, most patients improve dramatically. Three months later, they are clear or close to clear.”
For more from Dr. Lebwohl about Stelara, visit saturdayeveningpost.com/stelara.