Many treatment options, from topical medications to immunosuppressants, are available to help relieve symptoms of psoriasis and PsA. Your doctor can help you determine which treatment is best for you.

Many people living with psoriasis also experience PsA. Although the conditions are closely linked, each has its own recommended first-line treatment.

The most recent guidelines recommend a “treat to target” approach. That means a treatment plan has more flexibility based on a person’s individual preferences. First, you and your doctor determine a specific goal and how to measure progress. Then, your doctor works with you to select treatments.

Working with your doctor, you may be able to choose a treatment that improves symptoms or stops the progression of the disease.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, many people with psoriasis experience an itch that may feel like burning or biting on the skin.

Topical hydration, such as rich moisturizers and scale-softening lotions, may ease this symptom.

Some find greater relief from a topical steroid like hydrocortisone, calamine lotion, camphor, or benzocaine. Although these topicals may relieve your itch, they may also cause dryness.

If these are not working for your case, there are prescription options to treat psoriatic itch. These include steroids and capsaicin, as well as antihistamines and topical anesthetics.

For both psoriasis and PsA, NSAIDs are a common first-line treatment. Typically available over the counter, NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen sodium (Aleve). Your doctor may provide a prescription-strength NSAID if appropriate.

NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory medications. They reduce joint pain and swelling, therefore reducing symptoms of PsA.

Some people experience stomach irritation from NSAIDs. It’s important to take them with food. Other possible side effects of long-term use may include kidney damage and heart problems.

DMARDs reduce immune system activity, which reduces inflammation. Unlike NSAIDs and topical medications, which treat symptoms of PsA, DMARDs stop the disease progression and, in some autoimmune conditions, rebalance the immune system. This treatment not only relieves pain, but it can also slow joint damage.

This class of drugs can be nonbiologic or biologic. Nonbiologic DMARDs are widely prescribed. The most common is methotrexate. This medication reduces psoriasis symptoms and may help with PsA.

Methotrexate has several potential side effects, including:

  • nausea
  • low blood counts
  • liver damage
  • mouth sores
  • yeast infections

Leflunomide and sulfasalazine are other nonbiologic DMARDs that may also work against PsA, although their effectiveness in people living with PsA has not yet been shown.

There are also biologic medications that are considered DMARDS, such as Humira and Remicade.

Biologics are medications made from biological materials. They mimic typical immune system cells and products. They can be created using sources such as proteins, antibodies, and cells.

Enbrel, Cosentyx, and Humira are three biologics used to treat psoriasis and PsA. These medications are highly targeted, which means they may have fewer side effects than other treatment options.

Since these drugs work by blocking a protein important to the immune system, they reduce immune function. This means you may have a higher risk of infections.

PsA is the result of an overactive immune system and is considered an autoimmune disease. That’s why immunosuppressant drugs may slow the disease by reducing inflammation and inhibiting the immune attack against your own cells.

PsA is the result of an overactive immune system and is considered an autoimmune disease. That’s why immunosuppressant drugs may slow the disease by reducing inflammation and inhibiting the immune attack against your own cells.

Examples of immunosuppressants are azathioprine and cyclosporine. Both medications may ease the joint pain and swelling characteristics of PsA.

Each also has potential side effects. For cyclosporine, side effects can include nausea, high blood pressure, and kidney problems. Azathioprine may cause weakness, fatigue, and liver problems.

Like biologics, these drugs work by blocking the immune system. This means you may have a higher risk of infections.

PsA and psoriasis are long-term conditions, so it’s common for people to seek alternative or complementary therapies to improve their physical and emotional well-being.

Stress often triggers psoriasis flares. Using mind-body techniques such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi may assist with overall health and potentially improve your symptoms.

Nutrition, diet, and exercise can also help keep PsA symptoms well managed. Maintaining a moderate weight helps reduce pressure on the joints and lower systemic inflammation. In general, exercising releases feel-good endorphins, which may improve your overall mood.

Lastly, physical or occupational therapies are recommended for people with PsA to help maintain joint health and support quality of life.

Below are some commonly asked questions about psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis treatment (PsA).

What is the life expectancy of a person with psoriatic arthritis?

PsA does not usually affect life expectancy but may put you at a higher risk of other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.

Using data from the National Health Insurance Database of Taiwan, a recent study indicated that people with moderate to severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis have a shorter life expectancy than the general population. However, this was not the case for people with mild symptoms.

Ultimately, more research is needed on this topic.

How do you calm down psoriatic arthritis?

PsA can be calmed down with the following treatments:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • biologics
  • immunosuppressants
  • alternative and complementary therapies like yoga

What is a psoriatic arthritis flare like?

A PsA flare is associated with fatigue and throbbing pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints and tendons. You may also notice swelling in the fingers and toes and worsening skin symptoms.

Your doctor can help determine the best treatment plan for you based on your symptoms. Some people find it helpful to monitor their symptoms and treatments in a journal. Over time, you’ll discover what medications work well to manage your psoriasis and PsA.