Psoriasis is a condition that offers numerous treatment options, from creams and pills to light therapy and coal tar. However, for those experiencing severe symptoms with little relief from conventional therapies, biologics might be the answer.
What are Biologics and How Do They Work?
Biologics are medications derived from living cells that target specific parts of the immune system responsible for the overreaction seen in psoriasis. Unlike drugs that affect the entire immune system, biologics focus solely on the overgrowth of skin cells, effectively controlling symptoms.
Administration of biologics is typically through shots or infusions, bypassing the stomach to ensure the drugs remain effective without being degraded by stomach acids.
Are Biologics the Right Choice for You?
Biologics have shown remarkable effectiveness in alleviating psoriasis symptoms. However, due to their cost, insurers may require patients to try other treatments first. Unless psoriasis is severe or widespread, doctors may initially prescribe systemic immune drugs like methotrexate or retinoids.
Switching to biologics becomes an option when:
– Previous systemic treatments did not improve symptoms.
– Intolerable side effects occurred with previous treatments.
– Other medical conditions make alternative psoriasis drugs unsafe.
It’s essential to consider potential risks, such as increased susceptibility to infections and certain conditions that may contraindicate biologic use, including cancer, heart failure, liver disease, and multiple sclerosis. Pregnant individuals should consult their doctors regarding biologic safety, as its effects on unborn babies are not yet fully understood.
How Effective are Biologics?
While biologics do not provide a cure for psoriasis, they have proven to be highly effective. Some patients experience clearer skin within a few weeks of treatment. Biologics often outperform conventional drugs like methotrexate, acitretin, and cyclosporine, with fewer side effects due to their targeted approach.
Individual responses to biologics may vary, and not everyone experiences significant benefits. Side effects, such as skin reactions, diarrhea, and headaches, can occur but are generally tolerable.
Choosing the Best Biologic for You
Different groups of biologic drugs target specific immune system proteins known as cytokines, responsible for psoriasis symptoms. Interleukin-17 and -23 inhibitors have shown promising results in clearing skin better than those targeting TNF-alpha, according to research.
Your doctor will consider factors such as your desired level of skin clearance, existing medical conditions, and preferred method of administration (shots or IVs) when selecting the most suitable biologic for you. Stelara and Cosentyx are commonly prescribed due to their balanced effectiveness and safety.
In conclusion, biologics offer hope for those who have struggled to find relief from psoriasis symptoms through other treatments. Consultation with a healthcare professional can help determine if biologics are the right option for you, potentially providing significant improvement in your psoriasis management.