When it comes to treating psoriasis, there are many options, including:

  • Topicals such as creams, lotions, and ointments that are applied directly to psoriasis lesions
  • Light therapy, which can be used to help clear psoriasis
  • Systemic medications, including oral or injectable drugs that suppress your immune system to lower inflammation throughout the body
  • Biologic medications, which are newer injectable or infused drugs that target the source of inflammation contributing to psoriasis

Everyone responds differently to each of these options. Finding the right treatment plan can take some trial and error. Some people see significant improvement with the first drug they try, while others need to try a few options to find what works best.

Even then, what works for you initially may not continue working long term. You may have to reevaluate your treatment a few times throughout the years if you notice new or worsening symptoms and flares.

Whenever you’re thinking about switching to a new drug, it’s anticipated to feel nervous and wonder what to anticipate. Your dermatologist can help you make a smooth transition from one medication to another.

Here’s why it may make sense to try a new psoriasis treatment.

There’s nothing more frustrating than following your treatment plan and still having psoriasis flares. If you’re not happy with the way your skin looks, it might be time to consider switching — especially if you’ve been taking an older drug.

The newer biologic drugs have transformed psoriasis treatment. Today, many people with moderate-to-severe psoriasis can achieve 100 percent skin clearance with biologic treatment. If you still experience large areas of psoriasis while on your current treatment, switching to a new drug could result in clearer skin.

Research has shown that people living with psoriasis who changed medications achieved better PASI scores. PASI is the tool dermatologists use to see how severe psoriasis is and whether treatments are helping.

Each psoriasis treatment comes with a list of potential side effects. For example, light therapy can increase your risk of skin cancer. Biologic drugs can increase the risk of infection.

Specific drugs within each class can have their unique side effects.

Topical steroids can thin your skin. Topical calcineurin inhibitors can cause skin burning or irritation.

In the biologic class, infliximab (Remicade) and adalimumab (Humira) are more likely to cause weight gain than other options, such as ustekinumab (Stelara).

Switching to a medication that doesn’t cause side effects could make it easier to stick with your treatment plan. When you do change medications, go over their list of potential side effects with a doctor so you’ll know what to expect.

Some psoriasis drugs work better for some people than for others. For example, the effects of adalimumab (Humira) don’t seem to last as long in women as they do in men.

People with overweight or obesity may notice better results with infliximab (Remicade) or ustekinumab (Stelara) than other biologics because the dosing of these drugs is based on weight.

Factors such as your gender, weight, and medical history can help direct your doctor to the correct treatment for you.

Psoriasis treatments come in different forms. Some delivery methods might be a better fit for you than others.

Lotions and creams are easy to use. But they also can be greasy, time-consuming to apply, and leave stains on your clothes.

Oral options are less messy, but you have to remember to take every dose.

Biologics offer the convenience of only having to take them every few weeks. The downside is that you’ll either have to visit an infusion center or get an injection. If you’re not a fan of needles, biologics may not be the best choice for you.

Ultimately, the psoriasis medication that will work best for you is the one you’re most likely to take as prescribed.

Biologic drugs are effective but expensive. They can cost over $65,000 a year. Even if you have good health insurance, the out-of-pocket costs could be more than you can afford.

One way to save money is by switching to a biosimilar drug. As their name suggests, biosimilars are designed to work similarly to biologics, but they’re about 30 percent cheaper.

Another option is to switch to a biologic from a drug company that offers financial assistance. Some companies provide discount cards or copay assistance to help you afford your medication.

Psoriasis is about more than skin flares. The underlying inflammation can also damage your heart and blood vessels, increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke. Systemic medications and biologic drugs do double duty by clearing skin and reducing the risk for heart problems.

About 30 percent of people with psoriasis eventually develop psoriatic arthritis. Taking a biologic drug long term can help delay or prevent the development of psoriatic arthritis.

See a dermatologist if you’re wondering whether you’d benefit from a treatment change. Don’t stop or start taking any medications without checking in with a doctor first. Going off your current medication regimen on your own could lead to a psoriasis flare.

Keep in mind that even if you do switch treatments, the new drug isn’t guaranteed to work better. It may not clear your skin completely, or it could lead to more side effects.

It can take some trial and error to find the psoriasis treatment that gives you the right balance of skin clearance, convenience, and comfort.

If your current psoriasis treatment isn’t working well or as well as it used to, it may be time to consider making a change.

Work together with a doctor or dermatologist to determine which option to try and the steps to take to make a smooth treatment transition.

Read this article in Spanish.