Discusses methotrexate used to treat severe psoriasis. Covers how it works. Discusses short-term and long-term side effects. Covers who should not use the drug.
Methotrexate for Psoriasis
Methotrexate is a medicine that is usually taken once or twice a week.
It may also be given as a shot once a
How It Works
Methotrexate slows the rapid growth of
skin cells in
Why It Is Used
Methotrexate is used to treat severe
psoriasis (more than 20% of the skin is affected) when creams, ointments, tar
products, and phototherapy have not worked or cannot be used. It is also used
be used by women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant or by
Who cannot return to the doctor for tests to check for
side effects of the medicine.
How Well It Works
Methotrexate takes several weeks to
show benefits. If side effects can be tolerated, methotrexate can work very
well for some people. If you are taking methotrexate, your blood tests should
be monitored carefully. And it is very important that you do not drink
Common temporary side effects
Nausea, fatigue, loss of
Less common temporary side effects include:
Sunburn if you are exposed to large doses of
ultraviolet (UV) light either before or after taking
Vomiting, diarrhea, and occasional blood in the
Easy bruising and
Skin rash or
Birth defects (if taken by a
woman who is pregnant or who becomes pregnant while taking the
Long-term side effects include liver damage. If it is not
severe, the damage reverses after you stop taking methotrexate. The risk of
liver damage is higher if you drink a lot of alcohol, have kidney or liver
problems or diabetes, or are overweight.
See Drug Reference for a
full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all
What To Think About
Because it can cause serious side
effects, methotrexate is used only to treat severe psoriasis that cannot be
treated with other medicines, such as psoriasis linked with arthritis
methotrexate need to have their blood counts and liver function tested before
they start taking the drug and then regularly while they are taking it.
You may need to have a liver
biopsy to check on the health of your liver while you
are taking methotrexate.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.