Signs You May Need to Change Your Psoriasis Treatment

Psoriasis can be frustrating, with treatments that may sometimes be more aggravating than the condition itself. But if you're not following your treatment plan because it’s either not working or it's just not right for you, and you don't say anything to your doctor, you could be the one standing in the way of relief.

With all the treatment options available today, you might benefit from switching treatments or trying something new. But bringing it up with your doctor can feel like a daunting task, especially if you aren’t sure there's a better answer for you.

Don’t second-guess your gut feeling, says Steven Feldman, MD, PhD, a dermatologist, psoriasis expert, and dermatology professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a member of the medical board of the National Psoriasis Foundation. Instead, let your doctor know if your treatment plan isn’t working for you.

“The more honest and open you are with your doctor, the better,” Dr. Feldman says. Psoriasis can’t be cured, but you do have a wide range of treatment options to try, from topical treatments to light therapy to medications. “There are endless ‘next steps’ in psoriasis treatment right now," he says.

But if you don't speak up and talk with your doctor about how your psoriasis treatment isn’t working as well as it could, you won’t find the right treatment combination for you.

Why You May Need to Change Your Treatment Plan

Here are seven key reasons to talk to your doctor about a possible change in your psoriasis treatment:

1. You can’t or don’t want to use your medications as prescribed. Feldman says even medical experts are surprised to learn how few people follow their treatment plan exactly as outlined. And when it comes to the messiest psoriasis treatments — especially thick topical creams, moisturizers, and scalp preparations — some people even skip filling the prescription. It’s much better to let your doctor know you’d prefer a different approach than to ignore a prescription designed to help you.

2. You can't afford your prescriptions. Let your doctor know if your budget is limited so you can discuss a treatment approach that won’t force you to choose between copays and other necessities of life.

3. You’re unhappy about ongoing psoriasis flares. Quality of life matters more than quantity of flares. “Your doctor likely won’t determine if it’s time to change your psoriasis treatment based on how many skin lesions you have,” Feldman says. “The reason to change treatment is if you’re unhappy with how you’re doing in general.” If your treatment plan isn’t working well for you, let your doctor know and be specific about the problems, such as flares making it difficult to feel your best in professional or social settings.

4. Your current treatment isn't working as well as it used to. It’s possible that your psoriasis is changing, or perhaps you've had life changes that are making your psoriasis more difficult to control. Other treatment options may help.

5. You’re unhappy with certain side effects. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of treatment alternatives, including the effects of doing nothing. “Don’t forget some of the basic psoriasis treatments,” Feldman says. Light therapy, an old standby, is increasingly possible to do at home. It’s effective for many people with psoriasis and virtually free of serious side effects.

With the number of psoriasis treatment options available today and new ones being introduced all the time, there’s no reason to feel that you have to live with unwanted flares or hard-to-use medications. Talk to your doctor so together you can develop a new treatment strategy that will be more effective in keeping your skin clear and comfortable.

Additional reporting by Julie Stewart

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