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How Effective Is Cortisone for Psoriasis?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Cortisone for psoriasis is most effective when it is used in combination with other treatments and its use is limited. Steroids like cortisone can come with significant side effects, which makes them a poor choice for long-term therapy if another medication would be more appropriate. For short term therapy to address specific outbreaks, however, cortisone can be highly useful to treat psoriasis, especially in patients with mild forms of the disease. People with this condition may want to work with a dermatologist who specializes in treating it in order to access the most treatment options.

Patients can use topical cortisone creams to treat an outbreak. The medication suppresses the immune response and can decrease the inflammation that causes itching, pain, and swelling. Creams of varying strengths are available and it is important to use one that will be appropriate for the given outbreak. If the patient has only mild irritation, a strong cream wouldn’t be advised.

Another option is cortisone injections at the site of the outbreak. This form of cortisone for psoriasis delivers a small dose of powerful steroids to suppress the inflammation. Dosing is kept low to reduce the risk of side effects, and this option isn’t recommended on a regular basis. Over time, side effects can grow worse and the patient’s psoriasis may increase in severity. Using steroids sparingly in treatment can ensure that they will be effective when the patient needs them.

Concerns with long-term use of cortisone for psoriasis can include skin thinning, color changes, and the increased risk of more severe outbreaks. Studies on the use of steroid medications for this skin condition indicate that short-term use in combination with drug therapy and lifestyle changes can be appropriate. The patient may, for example, use dietary means to attempt to control psoriasis, and can consider other medications to limit the occurrence of outbreaks. As the intensity and severity of outbreaks declines, the patient can apply cortisone less frequently, allowing it to be more effective.

Side effects while taking cortisone for psoriasis can be discussed with a health care provider. Some patients experience bad reactions and shouldn’t use this steroid medication at all. They may need to switch to other options to control outbreaks. People who notice issues like skin thinning, cracking, or extreme redness can report them to determine if they are reactions to the cortisone or an indicator that the psoriasis is not responding to treatment.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon925996 — On Jan 15, 2014

I've had relief with using a gluten free diet.

By literally45 — On Jul 08, 2013

Hydrocortisone cream is not worth bothering with in my opinion, because it only works for my psoriasis if I use it everyday, and I can't use it indefinitely.

By bluedolphin — On Jul 07, 2013

@burcinc-- I understand what you're going through and if I were in your place, I would use OTC topical steroids when necessary to keep my psoriasis under control too. I think it's okay to use cortisone cream in these situations, but you really need to avoid using it long term.

No one should use steroids as a long-term treatment for psoriasis. It will cause more problems because steroids have so many unwanted side effects. I know that some people have psoriasis on multiple parts of their body. Applying cortisone cream on half of your body daily would be detrimental for your health. Cortisone can also damage skin tissues, so it will cause more skin problems in the long-term.

But if you tend to get a flare-up of symptoms under certain circumstances, and you have no alternative treatments, it's better to use a topical steroid than to do nothing. Cortisone is very effective for inflammation, so it helps with psoriasis plaques.

By burcinc — On Jul 06, 2013

I have lost my job and also my health insurance, I'm looking for another one. With all the stress I've been dealing with lately, my psoriasis has gotten worse.

Since I can't go to a doctor right now, I need to treat my psoriasis with OTC medications. Is it okay if I use cortisone temporarily? I will only use it when really necessary until I can see a doctor.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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