Our doctors may prescribe topical medications to apply to the skin containing cortisone-like compounds, synthetic vitamin D, tar, or Anthralin. These may be used in combination with natural sunlight or ultraviolet light. The most severe forms of psoriasis may require oral medications, with or without light treatment.

Steroids (Cortisone):

Cortisone creams, ointments, and lotions may help control the condition in many patients. Weaker preparations should be used on sensitive areas of the body. Stronger preparations will usually be needed to control lesions on the scalp, elbow, knees, palms and soles. These must be used cautiously and with specific instruction.

Side effects of the stronger cortisone preparations include thinning of the skin, dilated blood vessels, bruising, and skin color changes. Stopping these medications suddenly may result in a flare-up of the disease. After many months of treatment, the psoriasis may become resistant to the steroid preparations. Our doctors may inject cortisone in difficult-to-treat spots.

Scalp Treatment:

The treatment for psoriasis of the scalp depends on severity of the disease, hair length, and the patient’s lifestyle. A variety of non-prescription and prescription shampoos, oils, solutions, and sprays are available. Most contain coal tar, salicylic acid, or cortisone.


A medication that works well on tough-to-treat psoriasis. It can cause irritation and temporary staining of the skin and clothes. Some newer preparations and methods of treatment have lessened these side effects.

Vitamin D:

A synthetic Vitamin D, calcipotriene, is available in prescription form. It is useful for individuals with localized psoriasis and can be used with other treatments. Standard Vitamin D, bought in a drug store or health food store, is not proven to be of value in treating psoriasis.


Prescription vitamin A-related gels may be used alone or in combination with topical steroids for treatment of localized psoriasis.

Coal Tar:

For more than 100 years, coal tar has been used to treat psoriasis. Today’s products are greatly improved and less messy. Stronger prescriptions can be made to treat difficult areas.

More information about Psoriasis

Psoriasis Medications

Our team of renowned physicians and experienced support staff is committed to excellence in medical skin care and cosmetic procedures with a patient-centered focus for women and men in the greater Philadelphia area and beyond.