Which Medicines Can Worsen Psoriasis?

Some drugs can worsen psoriasis and should be avoided

Dermatology Appointment
Dermatology Appointment. Joe Raedle / Staff / Getty Images

If you have psoriasis, you may need to  know which medicines can worsen psoriasis. But first, just what is psoriasis?

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that changes the life cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that are sometimes painful.

Psoriasis is a persistent, long-lasting (chronic) disease.

There may be times when your psoriasis symptoms get better alternating with times your psoriasis worsens.

The primary goal of treatment is to stop the skin cells from growing so quickly. While there isn't a cure, psoriasis treatments may offer significant relief. Lifestyle measures, such as using a nonprescription cortisone cream and exposing your skin to small amounts of natural sunlight, also may improve your psoriasis symptoms.

Symptoms of Psoriasis

Psoriasis signs and symptoms can vary from person to person but may include one or more of the following:

  • Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
  • Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
  • Itching, burning or soreness
  • Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
  • Swollen and stiff joints

Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas.

Most types of psoriasis go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a time or even going into complete remission.

Drugs That Can Worsen Psoriasis

Several drugs or classes of drugs have been shown to worsen psoriasis. The major players in this phenomenon are:

Beta Blockers, such as propranolol. Used to treat high blood pressure patients and those who've experienced a heart attack, these drugs can worsen psoriasis within several weeks of starting the drug.

, used to treat bipolar disorders, can worsen psoriasis and even trigger psoriasis in people previously undiagnosed, sometimes as long as 15 months after starting the drug.

Antimalarials are drugs such as hydroxychloroquine, and they are typically used for the treatment of lupus or arthritis. Worsening of psoriasis has been reported with their use as early as 5 weeks into treatment.

Interferons, such as those used to treat hepatitis C, can aggravate existing or trigger new cases of psoriasis -- and the condition may not improve after stopping the drug.

Other drugs that may worsen psoriasis include calcium channel blockers and angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (for high blood pressure), the antifungal terbenefine, the smoking-cessation pill bupropion as well as SSRI-class antidepressants like Prozac.

Reference:

Mayo Clinic. Psoriasis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/basics/definition/con-20030838

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