Can You Use Clobetasol Propionate for Psoriasis?

Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, COI on October 30, 2017Written by Rena Goldman on November 9, 2015

Overview

Living with psoriasis isn’t always easy. The skin condition can cause physical discomfort and emotional stress. People diagnosed with psoriasis know that the disease doesn’t have a cure, and treatment is about managing symptoms.

Clobetasol propionate is one of the medications doctors prescribe to treat painful psoriasis symptoms. Read on to find out how the drug works and if it’s right for you.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a disease that affects skin cells. Experts aren’t sure what causes psoriasis, but it’s believed that it’s connected to the immune system. White blood cells called T lymphocytes, or T cells, help protect the body against infections, viruses, and diseases. In people with psoriasis, T cells are too active, and instead of attaching to harmful substances and organisms, they also attack healthy skin cells.

Normally, skin cells go through a growth process that starts deep below the skin’s surface layer. It takes the cells about a month to rise to the skin’s surface. This is called turnover. For people with psoriasis, this process can happen in only a few days. This causes patches that itch and are thick, red, and scaly. These patches can be painful and generally don’t go away without some type of treatment.

Both men and women get psoriasis. People with a family history of the disease are more likely to develop it.

Sometimes psoriasis symptoms fade and other times they get worse. People have different triggers that can affect the severity of their psoriasis flare-ups. Common triggers include:

  • stress
  • infections
  • extreme weather changes that cause dry skin
  • smoking cigarettes
  • skin injuries like bad sunburn, cuts, and bug bites
  • some medications, including blood pressure drugs

There are several different types of psoriasis, and it's possible to experience two types of psoriasis simultaneously.

What is clobetasol?

Clobetasol propionate is a high-dose corticosteroid medication used to reduce pain and itching caused by skin conditions like psoriasis. You doctor must prescribe this medication and you will need to use it as directed. It’s available in the following forms:

  • cream
  • ointment
  • gel
  • spray
  • foam
  • lotion
  • shampoo

The form you’re prescribed and how often you to apply it depends on how severe your psoriasis is. Follow the instructions on the medication’s packaging and the directions your doctor gives you.

In the United States, clobetasol propionate has several brand names:

  • Clobevate
  • Clobex
  • Cormax
  • Embeline
  • Olux
  • Temovate

Clobetasol propionate works by getting the body to stop its extreme immune response. When the immune system’s reaction calms down, cell turnover slows and the itchy, scaly rash improves.

Is it effective for psoriasis?

Treatment typically depends on how severe your psoriasis symptoms are, and what type of psoriasis you have. A doctor may prescribe a skin cream or ointment like clobetasol propionate to people with mild to moderate psoriasis. The medication is generally considered effective for treating psoriasis in its different forms.

According to research, a major factor in how well the treatment works seems to rely on whether it’s used as recommended. Studies suggest that doctors often prescribe the form of clobetasol propionate they think you’re most likely to use comfortably.

Are there risks?

This medication gets absorbed by the body even though it’s applied to your skin. There is the possibility of a negative reaction. The most common side effects are burning or stinging where you apply the medicine, cough or sore throat, and other symptoms of skin irritation.

Long-term use of topical steroids like clobetasol can affect wound healing. Large amounts could affect your moods or blood sugar. Follow your doctor’s and pharmacist’s directions carefully, and don’t cover the area you treat with a bandage.

This medication is a strong corticosteroid. It should be used exactly as your doctor prescribes. You will probably be told to use it only when your psoriasis flares up, and not as a preventive measure.

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