A new treatment for psoriasis has been approved by the FDA, and it is the first of its kind that has been produced. Unlike the usual creams, lotions and tablets, Enstilar® is a foam application. For those who suffer from psoriasis, particularly the common form psoriasis vulgaris, treatment options have always been limited, and it takes a very long time to gain control of the condition, let alone clear it. To understand how the foam treatment works, you need to know a little about psoriasis.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an inflammatory and chronic disease of the skin. It is estimated that up to 4% of the western population have some form of psoriasis, and 8.80% of those suffer from the common psoriasis vulgaris. The disease causes the skin cells to multiply much faster than normal skin cells, and this results in reddened plagues that are raised on the skin, which are covered in white colored scales. The most common sites affected are the elbows, scalp, and knees, but it can also appear on the face and inside the ears, as well as on the torso and lower limbs. There is a form of arthritis associated with psoriasis, and up to 30% have this complication. Other complications include deformity of the finger and toenails.
What Is Enstilar®?
If you have certain pre-existing medical conditions aside from the psoriasis, it is important to discuss the option of using Enstilar® thoroughly before initiating treatment. As a precaution, the following medical issues can be a concern:
- Previous kidney stones
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Infection of the skin
- Severe psoriasis with pus
- If you are already having phototherapy with UV light
Because Enstilar® is a topical treatment, it is unknown at this point in time whether or not it can affect a baby in the womb, or a breastfeeding baby. Your doctor may recommend you avoid contact between your skin and the baby after application, or may suggest you wait until after you have finished the pregnancy or breastfeeding before initiating treatment. There is an age restriction on using Enstilar®, and recipients of the treatment must be 12 years and over.
Enstilar Usage And Side Effects
How Is It Used?
As it is a steroid, you should not apply the foam to larger areas of skin on your body, instead use on smaller areas at a time. The foam is applied once a day, and it is only rubbed in gently. Once the foam is applied, you need to keep the skin uncovered, otherwise the amount that is absorbed into the skin may cause side effects. There are certain areas of the body where this medicine shouldn’t be used, unless it is recommended by the prescribing physician. These are:
- The face
- Underarm area
The foam or ointment application can be used every day for a period of 4 weeks. The liquid variation can be used longer, up to 8 weeks of daily usage. However, depending on the type of psoriasis or the severity of the disease, your doctor may recommend different treatment schedules.
What Are The Side Effects?
With any medicine you take or apply to your skin there is going to be some sort of side effect. The most common side effects from using this medicine include:
- Color of the skin changing
- Dryness of the skin
There is the possibility of some people experiencing an allergic reaction to the medicine, and if that occurs, you must seek medical attention immediately. Signs to watch out for are:
- Breathing difficulties
- Hives or a rash
- Swelling of the face
- Swollen tongue and or lips
- Constriction of the throat
It is important to note that allergic reactions are not hugely common, and is dependent on the individual taking the medicine. It’s just the same as how some people are allergic to cats, and others aren’t – the same thing happens with medicines.
Other side effects that can occur in some cases include:
- Visual disturbances
- Irregular heartbeat
- Gaining of weight
- Swelling or puffiness of the face
- Burning of the skin after application
- Pus formation
- Nausea and vomiting, diarrhea
- Weight gain
- Poor wound healing
- Mood changes
This list doesn’t include all of the potential effects, but these are the ones that are recognized as having been reported by those using the medicine. If you experience any of these effects, or other problems, you should stop the treatment immediately and contact your doctor.
What to Avoid During Treatment
Because the treatment contains a steroid, this can make you more likely to burn when exposed to the sun or the lights of a tanning bed. You must ensure you use a strong sunscreen when outside, even on cloudy days, and avoid any form of synthetic tanning.
For those who like to color their hair, it is recommended that you don’t do so within 12 hours of applying the treatment to your scalp. This could cause a nasty reaction. If you can possibly go without dyeing your hair for the duration of your treatment, this would be more advisable.
If there are any signs of skin infection, or an open wound, you should avoid using the treatment in those areas and seek medical advice regarding the infection. You can still use the foam in other areas of your body in the meantime. Like most medicines, you also need to make sure you don’t get it in your eyes. If this happens, rinse thoroughly with water.
For those who have suffered not only the physical effects of psoriasis but also the emotional affects, the creation of a new drug that can help improve their symptoms and their lives is a welcome relief. Unlike other methods of treatment, Enstilar® works reasonably quickly, and doesn’t have a list of serious side effects attached to it. It is well worth talking to your doctor to see if this new treatment will work for you.