When to expect results from psoriasis treatments

In order to have a sense of control over your psoriasis treatment, you need to know what to expect from it when. Many psoriasis medications take weeks to work - a wait that can be easier if you can expect results at the end of it. Here's when to start looking for results and how long the results might last:

Topical medications (for more information on the different types of psoriasis treatment, see "How psoriasis treatment works")

  • Calcipotriol (Dovonex®) starts to work within 2 weeks, with maximum effects after 6-8 weeks. You can stop using the medication once your psoriasis clears up, and your remission can last for about 4-18 months.
  • Calcipotriol/betamethasone (Dovobet®) starts to work within one week, with maximum effects after 4 weeks. Some studies have shown that using calcipotriol plus a steroid can provide a longer remission than calcipotriol alone, which gives a 4-18 month remission.
  • Coal tar (Targel®) can clear up psoriasis within 3-4 weeks when used together with light therapy.
  • Corticosteroids (various brands) can have maximum effects within a week if used with an airtight dressing.
  • Dithranol, also called anthralin (Anthranol®, Anthrascalp®, Anthraforte®), takes about 3 weeks for maximum effects.
  • Tazarotene (Tazorac®) starts to work after one week, with maximum improvement after 12 weeks.

Systemic medications - biologics

  • Alefacept (Amevive®) starts to work within 6 weeks, with maximum effects 18 weeks after treatment is started (treatment lasts 12 weeks). Remission lasts an average of 8 months after treatment is stopped.
  • Efalizumab (Raptiva®) starts to work within 12 weeks. Studies have shown that improvement may continue for up to 3 years if the treatment is continued.
  • Etanercept (Enbrel®) starts to work within one week, with maximum effects after 3 months. Remission lasts about one month after treatment is stopped.

Systemic medications - non-biologics

  • Acitretin (Soriatane®) starts to work within 2-3 months. During the first month, symptoms may seem to get worse, but then they will improve. Remission lasts for a few months after treatment is stopped.
  • Cyclosporine (Neoral® and generics) starts to work after 2 weeks of treatment, with maximum effects after 12-16 weeks of treatment. Remission lasts for 6-16 weeks after treatment is stopped.
  • Methotrexate (Methotrexate® and generics) starts to work within 4-6 weeks, with most people noticing an improvement after 2-3 months.

Light therapy

  • UVB (ultraviolet B) treatment starts to work after about 30 treatments (treatments are given 3 times per week).
  • PUVA (psoralen plus ultraviolet A) treatment starts to work after about 25 treatments (treatments are given 2-3 times per week). Remission lasts for 3-12 months after treatment is stopped.
  • Laser treatment clears up psoriasis within 4-6 weeks.

If your treatment doesn't start working within the expected timeframe, or if you think your psoriasis is coming back after being in remission, check with your doctor.

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