When Are Systemic Dermatology Treatments Needed?


img10There are many treatment options for various skin conditions. A number of conditions can be managed with topical (surface) treatments, but when these treatments fail, systemic medication may be needed. There are also more severe conditions that require systemic treatment right from the start. Systemic treatments include oral and injectable medications, as well as phototherapy. Let’s take a closer look at some of these systemic treatments:

Phototherapy Treatment

Phototherapy is a doctor-prescribed treatment for eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, and a number of less common skin conditions. It may be used alone or in combination with topical treatments. Phototherapy targets ultraviolet light at the affected skin area, and is administered in a special booth in the clinic under doctor supervision. Phototherapy is a very safe treatment. Generally 2-3 sessions per week are necessary for phototherapy to be effective, which can be a barrier to treatment.

Oral Immunomodulators

Inflammation is at the root of most skin conditions. There are limits to what topical anti-inflammatories can achieve. Oral drugs known as immunomodulators work to limit the immune response throughout the body, which reduces the inflammation associated with eczema or whatever skin condition is being treated. These medicines are associated with certain risks, including an increased risk for infections.

Injectable “Biologic” Medications

The newest type of systemic treatments are the “biologic” medications. Most of these are injectable medicines, and are used for psoriasis and a number of other inflammatory conditions. These biologic treatments work by targeting very specific chemicals in the body. This results in modification of the immune system and decrease in inflammation without the overall drop in immune system function associated with older immunosuppressive medications.

The pain, itch, and irritation caused by inflammatory skin conditions can affect performance at school or work, and can interfere with interpersonal relationships. When a person’s physical and emotional well-being are affected, systemic treatment may help.