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Important Facts About Corticosteroids for Psoriasis

By Kerry Weiss
Reviewed by Allison Truong, M.D.
August 16, 2021

If you’re dealing with itchy, scaly psoriasis plaques, your dermatologist might prescribe a topical treatment—that’s anything that’s applied on the skin, like an ointment, cream, or foam. There are several different types of topicals available, and corticosteroids are one of the more commonly prescribed. If you’re using—or are considering using—corticosteroids, you’re likely wondering how they work, how to avoid side effects, and what results to expect. Here, experts explain all that and more.

What Are Corticosteroids?

Corticosteroids were developed based on the natural corticosteroid hormones produced by the body’s adrenal glands. “They are very potent anti-inflammatory molecules that are used to treat a very wide range of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases,” explains Anthony Fernandez, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

For people with psoriasis, corticosteroids are applied directly to affected skin to slow excess skin growth and reduce plaques, redness, and swelling.

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