Psoriasis Treatment Injections
They’re not wonder drugs, but a new generation of injections has made life easier for many psoriasis sufferers. The new drugs work by interrupting the immune system, preventing or reducing the itchy and painful symptoms of psoriasis. Injections don’t work for everyone, and they do pose some risks. Still, they represent a significant advance in the battle to control and cure psoriasis.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, the exact causes of psoriasis remain unknown. It is clear that the immune system overreacts to certain triggers, causing skin cells to grow many times faster than normal. The result is patches of itchy white or red skin. In some cases, a related condition known as psoriatic arthritis may attack the joints and bones, leading to swelling, pain and loss of movement.
Most injections can be taken in the home. The patient is trained in the doctor’s office on how to safely inject the drug, and to store supplies of the medication. Alternatively, an injection may be delivered through an IV in the doctor’s office. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), these new drugs have worked well for people who have not found relief with other forms of treatment.
Injectable psoriasis drugs were developed to target the specific parts of the immune system that cause psoriasis. Known as biologics, because they come from animal proteins, the drugs come in two main types.
T-cell blockers: according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, these medications work by stopping the immune system from using a special kind of white blood cell. Known as T-cells, the blood cells usually help fight infections and viruses. In psoriasis, however, the T-cells respond even though the person is healthy. This causes a chain reaction in the immune system that causes psoriatic symptoms.
Tumor necrosis factor-alpha blockers: TNF-alpha blockers blocks the development of proteins that contribute to inflammation. By disrupting this process, the blockers prevent psoriasis skin symptoms as well as arthritic symptoms. Some TNF-alpha blockers are also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Some people experience fever, respiratory infections or skin rashes when first taking the injections. In most cases, these side effects disappear as the body adjusts.
Because they suppress parts of the immune system, injection medications have been linked to higher rates of infection. They may also increase a patient’s risk for lymphoma and blood cancers. Pregnant or nursing women are often advised not to take injections for psoriasis. Patients should inform their doctors if they have infections or persistent cold or flu symptoms. The AAD recommends patients discuss the risks and benefits of biologics with a dermatologist to determine if the treatment is right for them.