Can arthritis medications such as Arava cause psoriasis?
Arthritis is a general term used to describe diseases of the joints. There are many types and causes of arthritis, but all types affect the joints and cause pain and inflammation. The most common autoimmune arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, and it often affects people between forty to sixty years old. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, so all treatment is symptomatic and aims to slow the progression of the disease. The gold standard of treatment of arthritis are disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These drugs work by suppressing the immune system, to reduce the inflammation in the joints. An example of a DMARD that is commonly prescribed is leflunomide (brand name: Arava). Some side effects of leflunomide include: hypersensitivity, skin rash, and hypertension.
Because both psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis involve autoimmune reactions, it is possible that immunosuppressant drugs can be of benefit in treating both diseases. The DMARDs used for rheumatoid arthritis are also used to treat psoriatic arthritis. However, an immunosuppressant can be a double-edged sword at times, because a person taking these medications long-term are more susceptible to infections.