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Scientific studies have shown that taking infliximab for psoriasis is highly effective in 70 to 75% of patients. It works by suppressing the autoimmune responses that trigger the excess skin production causing psoriasis plaques. Infliximab carries risks of serious side effects, however, and should only be used in severe cases and when other treatments have been ineffective or are contraindicated.
Psoriasis is an inherited, chronic autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to replicate too quickly, leading to a buildup of excess skin in patches known as plaques. These plaques frequently occur on the exterior of joints, such as on the knees or elbows. Severity of psoriasis is generally measured on the Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI). Patients with PASI scores of 20 or above are said to have severe cases and are candidates for taking infliximab for psoriasis. Taking infliximab for psoriasis may clear up existing plaques as well as preventing new plaques from forming while treatment continues.
Infliximab may be dangerous and is not the first course of action recommended to treat psoriasis. Generally, a psoriasis sufferer should try over-the-counter, topical medications first, such as coal tar or salicylic acid products. If symptoms do not improve, a dermatologist may recommend phototherapy or other treatments, such as ciclosporin or methotrexate. If these treatments do not work, or if the patient cannot take them, the potential benefits and risks of infliximab should be considered.
Infliximab works by suppressing the body's immune system; therefore, it increases the body's susceptibility to fungal, bacterial and viral infections, some of which may be serious or fatal. People who are carriers of diseases like Hepatitis B or tuberculosis are at risk for developing active infections while taking infliximab, so patients should be tested for these pathogens before starting treatment. Infliximab may also increase risks of liver disease, heart disease, and some types of cancer, including leukemia and lymphoma. Patients who develop symptoms of any of these diseases while taking infliximab for psoriasis should immediately report them to the prescribing doctor.
Infliximab is given intravenously, or through an IV, so treatments must be scheduled by a doctor's office or clinic. A typical course in treatment of infliximab for psoriasis consists of 3 to 5 milligrams per kilogram (2.2 lbs) of body weight, taken every two to three weeks. Each treatment takes about two hours. After 10 weeks, if there is a 75% reduction in PASI, the doctor may prescribe either continuing regular treatments or as-needed treatments.
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