The Consumer’s Guide to Biologics for Psoriasis

Everything you need to know about biologics, the most targeted systemic drugs for treating moderate to severe psoriasis.

I f you’re unhappy with your psoriasis treatment, trying a biologic may be the logical next step for you. Biologics have been used in the United States to treat psoriasis for almost two decades; the first was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2003.

How Biologics Work for Psoriasis

How Biologics Work for Psoriasis

Since then, this drug class has grown, changing the treatment landscape for psoriasis by helping more people find effective treatment and achieve clearer skin. In fact, you may have seen biologics for psoriasis advertised on TV or online, or heard about them from someone else who has psoriasis.

If so, it’s likely you have questions about how biologics work, what it’s like to take one (as most come in injectable form), and more. Learning as much as you can on your own will help prepare you to have an informed discussion with your doctor.


What is your biggest concern about taking biologics to treat psoriasis?

Psoriasis: A Disorder of the Immune System

On the surface, psoriasis is a skin disease, but because plaques and other symptoms are caused by inflammation inside the body, the best way to treat moderate to severe psoriasis is often with systemic medications that block the immune system’s inflammatory response.

Why does your body create this inflammation? It’s part of your immune system’s natural defense against foreign invaders that might make you sick. But with psoriasis, your immune system is overactive, and causes excess inflammation, which activates skin cells to multiply too fast, leading to plaques on your skin.

In other words, psoriasis is an autoimmune condition in which your immune system gets “angry” at your skin, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

How Biologics Treat Psoriasis From the Inside Out

Biologic medications are created using living cells that are similar to molecules in your immune system. They work within the body to target inflammation and psoriasis plaques at the source.

Biologics differ from other common psoriasis treatments for two reasons:

  1. Rather than treating existing plaques (as topical therapies do), biologics get to the root of psoriasis by blocking the inflammatory process in your body before it even starts.
  2. Unlike traditional systemic therapies, which broadly suppress the immune system, biologics target specific molecules linked to psoriasis.

8 Essential Facts About Biologics for Psoriasis

Here are the basics you should know when deciding if biologics are right for you.

Is It Time to Try a Biologic to Treat Psoriasis Symptoms?

If you’re struggling to get your psoriasis symptoms under control, there is good news: Today, there are more psoriasis therapies than ever before, and a dermatologist can help you find the right treatment — or combination of treatments — that meets your particular needs.

Before trying biologics, your doctor may suggest trying the following treatments.

  • Topicals: Topicals include topical corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, anthralin, topical retinoids (vitamin A derivatives), salicylic acid, coal tar, and moisturizers. These creams and ointments are applied to the affected skin, so they only work on the surface to treat the outward symptoms of psoriasis and do not impact inflammation within the body.
  • Phototherapy (light therapy): Light therapy uses natural or artificial ultraviolet light to slow skin cell growth and reduce inflammation. Phototherapy includes natural sunlight or artificial ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) light.
  • Traditional systemics: Medications such as methotrexate and cyclosporine suppress the immune system on a broad level to reduce inflammation and prevent psoriasis symptoms and progression. They can be used alone or in combination with a biologic to treat psoriasis.

Treatment depends on your preferences and how severe the psoriasis is, Zeichner says. “In mild cases, topical creams may do the trick,” he says, “but if larger body surfaces are involved, then systemic medications such as biologics may be necessary.”

A Psoriasis Expert Answers Common Questions About Biologics

Do you still have questions about biologics? We talked to Anna Guanche, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Bella Skin Institute, about the most common questions she hears from patients and got answers.

Quiz: How Much Have You Learned?

Test Your Knowledge of Psoriasis Treatment

Can you answer all 7 questions correctly?

Next Steps: Making Psoriasis Treatment Decisions



You’ve learned a lot about biologics. Take some time to think about your own psoriasis care and what you might want to discuss with your doctor.



Before your next appointment, reflect on these questions your doctor might ask you about your current treatment plan.

  1. Are you satisfied with your current psoriasis treatment?
  2. Has it improved your skin and overall health as well as you had hoped?
  3. Does psoriasis impact your emotional health and quality of life?
  4. Are you downplaying your symptoms when speaking to your doctor?
  5. Are you following your psoriasis treatment regimen as prescribed?
  6. Have you tried other treatment options?

Doctor Discussion


If you decide it’s time to discuss a potential treatment change with your doctor, jot down some questions you’d like to ask. Here are a few conversation starters you can save to your phone and bring to your next appointment.

  1. What can I do to improve my skin?
  2. Am I a good candidate for biologics?
  3. Which medication are you prescribing for me and why?
  4. What results do you expect?
  5. How long should I use this medication before I notice any progress? 

What symptom of psoriasis are you most hoping treatment will improve?

Get your personalized Content!

To get the best possible treatment, you need to give your healthcare providers the right information — and knowing what