No cure exists for Behcet's disease. If you have a mild form of the condition, your doctor may offer medications to control temporary flares in pain and inflammation. You may not need to take medication between flares.
If your signs and symptoms are more severe, your doctor may advise medications to control the signs and symptoms of Behcet's disease throughout your body, in addition to medications for the temporary flares.
Treatments for individual signs and symptoms of Behcet's disease
Your doctor works to control any signs and symptoms you experience during flares with medications such as:
- Skin creams, gels and ointments. Topical corticosteroid medicines are applied directly to skin and genital sores in order to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Mouth rinses. Special mouthwashes that contain corticosteroids and other agents to reduce the pain of mouth sores may ease your discomfort.
- Eyedrops. Eyedrops containing corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory medicines can relieve pain and redness in your eyes if inflammation is mild.
Systemic treatments for Behcet's disease
If topical medications don't help, your doctor may recommend a drug called colchicine (Colcrys). Arthritis symptoms also may improve with colchicine.
Severe cases of Behcet's disease require treatments to control damage from the disease between flares. If you have moderate to severe Behcet's disease, your doctor may prescribe:
Corticosteroids to control inflammation. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, may reduce the inflammation caused by Behcet's disease. The signs and symptoms of Behcet's disease tend to recur when corticosteroids are used alone, so doctors often prescribe them with another medication to suppress the activity of your immune system (immunosuppressives).
Side effects of corticosteroids include weight gain, persistent heartburn, high blood pressure and bone thinning (osteoporosis).
Medications that suppress your immune system. By stopping your immune system from attacking healthy tissues, immunosuppressive drugs reduce the inflammation. Immunosuppressive drugs that may play a role in controlling Behcet's disease include azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan), cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan).
Because these medications suppress the actions of your immune system, they may increase your risk of infection. Other possible side effects include liver and kidney problems, low blood counts, and high blood pressure.
Medications that alter your immune system's response. Interferon alfa-2b (Intron A) regulates the activity of your immune system to control inflammation. It may be used alone or with other drugs to help control skin sores, joint pain and eye inflammation in people with Behcet's disease.
Side effects include flu-like signs and symptoms, such as muscle pain and fatigue.
Medications that block a substance called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) are effective in treating some of the signs and symptoms of Behcet's, especially for people who have more-severe or resistant symptoms. Examples include infliximab (Remicade) and etanercept (Enbrel).
Side effects may include headache, skin rash and an increased risk of upper respiratory infections.