I like to tell my psoriasis patients that we are living in an era that offers a lot more effective treatment options for what used to be a huge “hassle” to manage.
So called “biologic” therapy describes another systemic treatment option for psoriasis. (“Systemic” therapy means that it acts on the whole body and is not something that is applied to the skin.)
Biologic medications are proteins that act upon parts of the immune system and differ from other medications that are synthetic chemicals. Most biologics are injected subcutaneously, like insulin for diabetes. In fact, insulin is a biologic molecule, but we don’t describe it that way.
Biologics suppress inflammation that patients experience as red and flaking areas of skin. Biologics also decrease the inflammation that can lead to the form arthritis that often accompanies psoriasis (psoriatic arthritis).
It is becoming more clear that those with psoriasis have an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease compared to patients without psoriasis.
The biologics can inhibit inflammatory signals, like TNF-alpha, and may help reduce this additional risk of developing heart disease and other vascular problems in the future. This could offer a potentially signficant advantage for biologics over other treatment options. However, this benefit has not been fully proven yet.
I encourage my patients with psoriasis to utilize the resources on our website or go directly to the National Psoriasis Foundation website to learn more about their disease and treatment options. Then we can work together to balance the benefit and risks associated with these treatment and make a decision that is good for them.