New guidance for treating your psoriasis

What you need to know about the new psoriasis treatment guidelines

You’ve got questions and we’ve got answers.

Q: Do these guidelines apply to me? What should I do?

A: The guidelines apply to you if you have been diagnosed with psoriasis. Ask your dermatologist about what the guidelines mean for your treatment, especially if you have moderate-to-severe psoriasis and you’re not already taking a biologic.

Q: How worried should I be of comorbidities?

A: Concern about comorbidities shouldn’t rule your life, but you shouldn’t rule them out, either. There’s a lot more to psoriasis than what you see on you skin. Share your concerns with your primary care provider and with your dermatologist, if you have one. Your dermatologist is the key player in your psoriasis treatment team, but dermatologists are usually not specialized in treating conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or hypertension. Your dermatologist should work with your primary care provider in these and other areas.

Q: What if I don’t have a dermatologist?

A: We can help you find one. Just contact our Patient Navigation Center for free assistance locating a health care provider in your area who truly understands psoriasis and its comorbidities. Patient navigators can also offer resources if you have other questions about psoriatic disease.

Q: How do I talk about the guidelines with my dermatologist? What if he or she hasn’t heard of them?

Doctors are busy people, but they want to hear your concerns. Start by doing a little homework. Read our story on the guidelines or access the full articles about biologics and comorbidities from the Journal of the Academy of American Dermatologists. Ask your doctor how the guidelines apply to you.

April Armstrong, M.D., director of the psoriasis program in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Southern California and a former NPF medical board member, cautions against appearing confrontational when bringing up the topic of treatment guidelines.

“Some providers who do not know about the guidelines may need time to read about them, digest them, and think about how these approaches can be applied to their individual patients,” she says. “If they are initially unaware of these guidelines, please do not act as if they should know them. Rather, ask them to visit the NPF site to read more about them. You can always come back to this issue at your next visit.”

Your patient navigator can help you prep for this conversation.

Q: Do the guidelines tell my doctor what to do?

Definitely not.

Alan Menter, M.D., is one of the two co-chairs of the guidelines team. He’s chair of the Division of Dermatology and director of the Dermatology Residency Program at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, plus he received an NPF Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. Menter says that the guidelines do not tell doctors how to treat their patients. They do not define the standard of care or take the place of the conversations you should be having with your doctor about your treatment plan.

Instead, the guidelines provide an education. “Thanks to these guidelines, your health care provider now has the clinical evidence of the past 10 years, including biologic treatments and the latest findings on comorbidities, at his or her fingertips,” Menter says. “You can learn this, too. You should work in partnership with your doctor to find the treatment that works for you and that you want to do.”

Q: Are there other resources where I can learn more?

A: Check back for webinars and interviews with the experts involved in developing the treatment guidelines and on related topics. For example, don’t miss a free health webcast called “Biologics Update” on April 18, 2019.