Phototherapy or light therapy involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet light for a set amount of time on a consistent basis. Present in natural sunlight, UVB is an effective treatment for psoriasis. UVB light penetrates the skin and slows the growth of affected skin cells and decreases inflammation. Studies have shown that narrow-band UVB clears psoriasis faster and produces longer remissions than broad-band UVB. It also may be effective with fewer treatments per week than broad-band UVB.
Treating moderate to severe psoriasis usually involves a combination of treatments including systemic medications and biologic drugs. Biologic drugs, or “biologics,” are given by injection or intravenous (IV) infusion. Different from the traditional systemic drugs that affect the entire immune system, biologics target specific parts of the immune system. The biologics used to treat psoriasis block the action of a specific type of immune cell called a T cell (Amevive), or block proteins in the immune system, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha or TNF-alpha (Enbrel, Humira, Remicade), or interleukins 12 and 23 (Stelara). These cells and proteins all play a major role in developing psoriasis. Dr. Goldenberg is a specialist in using biologics to treat psoriasis and is currently studying new and emerging biologic therapies.