How long will I have to treat my psoriasis?

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Psoriasis medicine: Psoriasis is often a lifelong condition that requires a long-term treatment strategy.

Psoriasis tends to come and go unexpectedly. People often have periods when psoriasis calms down. Some may see clear or nearly clear skin during these periods. Psoriasis can also flare unpredictably.

Treating psoriasis can keep it under control, helping you avoid serious flares and preventing the psoriasis from becoming more severe.

Keeping your psoriasis under control tends to be an ongoing process. It requires appointments with your dermatologist. You’ll also need to follow your treatment plan and learn what triggers your psoriasis. Once you know your triggers, you can avoid them.

While treatment may be ongoing, the type of treatment you need may change. Different treatment may be necessary to:

  • Keep your psoriasis stable, nearly clear, or clear
  • Control a flare-up

At times, treatment can lead to clear skin and no psoriasis symptoms. The medical term for this is “remission.” A remission can last for months or years; however, most last from 1 to 12 months.
Psoriasis is notoriously unpredictable, so it’s impossible to know who will have a remission and how long it will last.

Even when psoriasis clears, it’s likely to return. When it does, treatment can help control it so that your psoriasis doesn’t worsen.

What will happen if I stop treating my psoriasis?

One of three things happens when you stop treatment:

  1. You may stay clear and have no psoriasis symptoms (remission).
  2. Your psoriasis may return, looking and feeling much like it did before (relapse).
  3. The psoriasis may return and be worse than before (rebound).

What happens often depends on the medication you were using when you stopped, how well you manage your psoriasis triggers, and your medical history.

Before stopping psoriasis treatment, talk with your dermatologist

Because psoriasis is a lifelong disease, it’s understandable that you may want to stop treatment at some point. Always talk with your dermatologist before you stop treatment.

Some treatments can be stopped immediately. Others need to be discontinued slowly to prevent psoriasis from worsening (rebound).

When psoriasis rebounds, it may become a more serious type of psoriasis. A person who had plaque (pronounced plack) psoriasis may suddenly have pustular psoriasis or erythrodermic psoriasis.

The best way to prevent a rebound is to talk with your dermatologist. Your dermatologist can tell you whether you can stop the treatment abruptly or slowly. Sometimes, the best approach is to gradually switch to another treatment.

Tell your dermatologist why you want to stop treatment

When you talk with your dermatologist, it’s important to explain why you want to stop treatment. This may play a key role in determining next steps. This talk is especially important for both men and women who want to start a family.

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References
Callen JP. “Does Paternal Exposure to Methotrexate Affect Birth Outcomes?” (reviewing Beghin D et al. J Rheumatol 2011 Apr.) NEJM: Journal Watch. June 17, 2011. Last accessed October 22, 2015.

Carey, W, Glazer S, et al. “Relapse, rebound, and psoriasis adverse events: An advisory group report.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2006 Apr;54:S171-81.

Lebwohl M. “A clinician’s paradigm in the treatment of psoriasis.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2005 Jul;53:S59-69.