If you have plaque psoriasis, your doctor may recommend that you use Skyrizi.
Skyrizi is a prescription drug that’s used to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in some adults. It’s prescribed for people who could use light therapy or systemic therapy for the condition. (Systemic therapy affects your whole body.)
With plaque psoriasis, you have thick red or dark-colored patches on your skin. To learn more about this condition and how Skyrizi is used to treat it, see the “What is Skyrizi used for?” section below.
Skyrizi comes as a solution inside prefilled syringes. You’ll take this drug by injecting it under your skin.
The active drug in Skyrizi is called risankizumab-rzaa.
Skyrizi is a biologic drug, which means it’s made from parts of living cells. It isn’t available in a biosimilar form. (Biosimilars are like generic drugs. But unlike generics, which are made for non-biologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic drugs.) Instead, risankizumab-rzaa comes only as the brand-name drug Skyrizi.
In this article, we describe how Skyrizi is taken, its side effects and uses, and more.
Your doctor will explain how you should take Skyrizi. They’ll also explain how much to take and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.
Skyrizi comes as a solution inside single-dose prefilled syringes, You’ll take this drug as an injection under your skin. You’ll likely get your first few doses of Skyrizi from your doctor.
After your first few doses, you may start giving Skyrizi injections to yourself at home. Your doctor will show you how to do this. You can also visit the drug manufacturer’s website for more information on how to self-inject Skyrizi.
To take a dose of Skyrizi, you’ll usually use two prefilled syringes for each dose.
The dosing schedule for Skyrizi begins with two starter doses. These doses are used to get increased levels of the drug into your body. This will help Skyrizi start working quickly. The first starter dose is usually given once during the first week of treatment and a second time 4 weeks later.
After that, you’ll likely take a dose of Skyrizi once every 12 weeks.
Questions about taking Skyrizi
Here are answers to some questions commonly asked about taking Skyrizi.
- What if I miss a dose of Skyrizi? If you miss an appointment to get a Skyrizi dose, call your doctor’s office right away to reschedule. If you use Skyrizi at home and you miss a dose, take your missed dose as soon as you remember. After you take your missed dose, you’ll likely go back to your normal dosing schedule. But talk with your doctor to be sure.
- Will I need to use Skyrizi long term? Yes, if Skyrizi is working for you without causing serious or bothersome side effects, you’ll probably use it long term. Be sure to talk with your doctor about how long you should use this drug.
- Should I take Skyrizi with food? You can take Skyrizi with or without food.
- How long does Skyrizi take to work? Your symptoms should start to lessen after you receive your starter doses of Skyrizi. In studies of the drug, some people had improvement after just 16 weeks of treatment.
Like most drugs, Skyrizi may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the main side effects that Skyrizi may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Skyrizi. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Skyrizi can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Skyrizi’s Medication Guide.
Mild side effects of Skyrizi can include:
- fungal infections of the skin or nails
- pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site*
- upper respiratory infections,* such as the common cold
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Skyrizi can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Skyrizi, call your doctor right away. However, if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects can include:
- serious infections, such as pneumonia
- allergic reaction*
* For more information about allergic reaction, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Side effect focus
Learn more about some of the side effects Skyrizi may cause.
Upper respiratory infection
You might get an upper respiratory infection (URI) while you’re taking Syrikiz. In fact, this was the most common side effect reported in studies of Skyrizi. Types of URIs include the common cold, sinus infections, and tonsillitis.
With a URI, you may have cough, mucus production, sneezing, and a runny or stuffy nose.
What might help
You can usually help relieve URI symptoms by taking over-the-counter drugs. A few suggestions are listed below:
- Antihistamines, which can help relieve sneezing and runny nose. Examples include loratadine (Claritin) and cetirizine (Zyrtec).
- Products that contain dextromethorphan, which can help reduce cough. An example of this kind of drug is Robitussin DM.
- Guaifenesin (Mucinex), which can help break up mucus in your chest.
- Decongestants, which can help relieve stuffy nose. Examples include oxymetazoline (Afrin) and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
Before taking any OTC medications, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also try several home remedies that may ease URI symptoms.
If your URI symptoms aren’t improving, be sure to call your doctor.
You might have a headache after receiving injections of Skyrizi. This was a common side effect in clinical studies of the drug.
The type of headache you have with Skyrizi can be different from person to person. Here are a few examples of different types of headaches you might have with this drug:
- tension headache, which can feel like a band around your forehead
- sinus headache, which can feel like pressure around your cheeks, forehead, eyes, or nose
- cervicogenic headache, a migraine-like headache causing pain at the bottom of your skull or in your neck
What might help
You can usually treat headache with OTC drugs, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve). It might also help if you apply a cold compress or heating pad to your head. Try doing this for 5 to 10 minutes several times throughout the day.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications with Skyrizi. And if your headache is severe, or it’s not getting better with these measures, be sure to call your doctor.
Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
After you get a Skyrizi injection, you may have pain, redness, or swelling at the site where the drug was injected. This side effect is called an injection site reaction. This was a common side effect in clinical studies of the drug.
What might help
You can try relieving symptoms of an injection-site reaction by applying a cold compress to the area affected. You can also try taking over-the-counter pain medications. These include acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve). But check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications with Skyrizi.
Avoid rubbing the injection site, as doing so can make your symptoms worse.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to Skyrizi. Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
- skin rash
- flushing (warmth, swelling, or redness in your skin)
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Skyrizi. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
If you have plaque psoriasis, your doctor may recommend Skyrizi treatment for you.
Skyrizi is prescribed to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in some adults. It’s prescribed for people who could use light therapy or systemic therapy for the condition. (Systemic therapy affects your whole body.)
Plaque psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder. It causes thick, red or dark-colored patches of skin on the elbows, knees, lower back, and scalp. As an autoimmune disorder, plaque psoriasis is caused by your immune system attacking your own cells.
Skirizi works by attaching to certain immune system proteins. This helps to ease swelling that leads to plaque psoriasis lesions on your skin.
If you’re considering Skyrizi treatment, there are some important things you should discuss with your doctor. These include your overall health and any medical conditions you may have. These and other factors to consider before taking Skyrizi are described below.
Taking medications, vaccines, foods, and other things with a certain drug can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking Skyrizi, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take (including prescription and over-the-counter types). Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Skyrizi.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
Skyrizi isn’t known to interact with any specific drugs or supplements. But you should still talk with your doctor or pharmacist about all other medications and supplements you’re taking. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you if you’re at risk for any interactions with Skyrizi.
You shouldn’t receive live vaccines while you’re using Skyrizi. (Live vaccines are made from live forms of a virus.) Skyrizi can lower your ability to fight infections. So if you get a live vaccine, you may be more likely to get the infection the vaccine was meant to protect you from.
Before you get any vaccines while using Skyrizi, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Skyrizi may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Skyrizi. Factors to consider include those in the list below.
Tuberculosis (TB). You shouldn’t take Skyrizi if you have TB. Your doctor will order a TB test for you before you start taking Skyrizi. If you have this condition, you’ll likely receive TB treatment before starting the drug.
Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Skyrizi or any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t take Skyrizi. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
Active infection or a history of reoccurring infections. You shouldn’t take Skyrizi if you have a current infection or if you’ve had reoccurring infections in the past. And be sure to tell your doctor right away if you get an infection while taking this drug.
Use with alcohol
Using Skyrizi and drinking alcohol isn’t known to be harmful. But if you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about the amount that’s safe to drink while using Skyrizi.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It’s not known whether Skyrizi is safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Talk with your doctor about the risks of using Skyrizi if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Skyrizi.
Is Skyrizi used to treat psoriatic arthritis?
No, Skyrizi isn’t currently used to treat psoriatic arthritis. This might change in the future, though. In fact, studies are looking at using Skyrizi for this condition.
If you’d like to know more about treatment options for psoriatic arthritis, talk with your doctor.
How does Skyrizi compare to Humira?
Both Skyrizi and Humira are injections used to treat plaque psoriasis in adults. Humira is also prescribed to treat other conditions in adults and children. These include Crohn’s disease, hidradenitis suppurativa, and uveitis.
However, Skyrizi and Humira each contain different active drugs. Skyrizi contains the active drug risankizumab-rzaa. Humira contains the active drug adalimumab. Both Skyrizi and Humira come as a solution inside prefilled syringes. But Humira is also available in a vial and in a prefilled pen.
If you’d like to know about the differences between Skyrizi and Humira, talk with your doctor.
Is Skyrizi a type of biologic drug?
Yes, Skyrizi is a type of biologic drug.
Biologic drugs are made from parts of living organisms. Drugs that aren’t biologics, on the other hand, are made of chemicals.
Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include where you live, what your insurance plan covers, and which pharmacy you use.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Skyrizi manufacturer’s website to see if they have support options.
Don’t take more Skyrizi than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects.
What to do in case you take too much Skyrizi
Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Skyrizi. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use their online resource. However, if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.
Before starting Skyrizi treatment, you should talk with your doctor about whether it’s the right choice for you.
Besides Skyrizi, there are other treatments available for plaque psoriasis. If you have questions about the treatment option that’s best for you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Here are a few other questions you may want to ask your doctor about Skyrizi treatment:
- Which vaccines are safe for me to take while using Skyrizi?
- Am I taking any medications that might interact with Skyrizi?
- Can you recommend ways to lower my risk for getting an infection while taking Skyrizi?
- Can you show me how to self-inject Skyrizi?
And for more information about psoriasis, sign up here for the Healthline psoriasis newsletter.
How is Skyrizi different from other treatment options for plaque psoriasis?Anonymous patient
Skyrizi, like some other biologic drugs, is a systemic therapy. Systemic therapies are drugs that affect your entire body. With Skyrizi, the drug acts on your immune system to help reduce inflammation related to plaque psoriasis.
The other common type of treatment for plaque psoriasis is topical therapy. Topical therapies are applied directly to the site of inflammation or dryness. These drugs are typically corticosteroids that come as creams or ointments. Corticosteroids are drugs that lower the responsiveness of the body’s immune system.
If you’d like to know more about Skyrizi versus other drugs for plaque psoriasis, talk with your doctor.Victor Nguyen, PharmD, MBAAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.