There are some relatively simple ways to treat this skin condition that can cause painful itching.
For years, Kim Kardashian has lived with a skin condition known as psoriasis.
It’s an autoimmune disease that affects an estimated 2 percent of people in the United States.
It causes red scaly patches to develop on the skin. Those patches can be dry, itchy, and painful.
In the past, Kardashian has managed the condition using moisturizing treatments and light therapy.
But last month in a post on Twitter, the reality television personality and entrepreneur asked for advice about psoriasis medication.
“I think the time has come I start a medication for psoriasis,” Kardashian wrote. “I’ve never seen it like this before and I can’t even cover it at this point. It’s taken over my body. Has anyone tried a medication for psoriasis & what kind works best?”
Here’s some treatments Kardashian and others with the ailment can consider.
Psoriasis most often develops on the outside of the elbows, knees, or scalp.
But it can appear on other parts of the body, too.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, roughly 80 percent of people with psoriasis have a mild to moderate case of the disease.
For most of them, topical medications offer an effective treatment.
Those topical treatments can include medicated ointments, creams, lotions, oils, gels, foams, sprays, or shampoos.
“The most effective ones are prescription,” Dr. Jashin Wu, a dermatologist and a member of the National Psoriasis Foundation’s medical board, told Healthline.
“You could use over-the-counter treatments,” he continued, “but they’re generally not going to work as well.”
Light therapy provides another treatment option for psoriasis. It’s also known as phototherapy.
In this approach to treatment, you expose skin to ultraviolet B (UVB) light multiple times a week.
You can use a light unit at a dermatologist’s office or buy a light unit to use at home. Or a dermatologist might recommend treatment with an excimer laser, a handheld device that emits a high-powered beam of UVB.
“Those have all been shown to be efficacious,” Wu said.
“It’s just a little more work for the patient because they have to come into the office two or three times a week,” he continued, “or for the home therapy unit, they have to stand in front of the unit for 20 minutes or so.”
Short periods of exposure to natural sunlight can also help, Wu added.
But he warned that too much time in the sun raises your risk of skin cancer.
The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends starting with no more than 5 to 10 minutes of unprotected exposure to noontime sun each day.
The organization warns against the use of tanning beds, which don’t provide a safe or suitable alternative to light therapy units or natural sunlight.
To treat moderate to severe cases of psoriasis, oral medications and biologic drugs are available.
Biologic drugs are derived from living organisms.
They target specific parts of the immune system.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved 10 types of biologic drugs to treat psoriasis.
Among those drugs, adalimumab (Humira) is one of the most commonly prescribed. Like many biologic drugs, it’s administered by injection.
Because Humira affects your immune system, taking it might increase your chances of catching an infection.
“In theory, it could increase the risk of infections,” Wu said.
“But a lot of the long-term registries don’t show much of an increased risk of that,” he added.
If you have psoriasis, Wu encourages you to get treatment early.
“I would say you should get treated as soon as your get the diagnosis of psoriasis,” he told Healthline. “I would say get treated today, if you can.”
If topical treatments aren’t enough to control your symptoms, you might benefit from an oral medication or biologic drug.
If your dermatologist isn’t willing to prescribe those drugs, Wu suggested it might be time to look for another doctor.
“Say they have 5 to 10 percent of body area covered [by psoriasis], and their dermatologist says, ‘oh, you just need a cream,’” he said, “I can guarantee that’s not going to be enough.”
“They should insist that they get something stronger, like an oral medication or biologic agent,” he continued, “and if their doctor still says no, they should probably find another dermatologist.”