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Treatments for Behcet's Disease

Treatments for Behcet's Disease:

The treatment plan for Behcet's disease varies depending on the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and other factors. Behcet's disease cannot be cured, but treatment can help to reduce symptoms and minimize the develoment of serious complications, such as meningitis, blindness and aneurysm of the lungs.

Treatment generally involves the use of medications that suppress or control the immune system's abnormal response to healthy cells. This response results in the inflammation of blood vessels and symptoms and complications of Behcet's disease.

For mild cases that only involve lesions on the mouth, genitals, and skin, topical steroids may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. These medications are available in creams, ointments, mouth rinses, and eye drops.

The corticosteroid prednisone may be prescribed in pill form to suppress flare-ups in many cases. High doses of prednisone paired with another type of medication that suppresses the immune system is often necessary for people who have serious complications, such as meningitis or posterior uveitis. The drug interferon alfa may also be used to control the immune response and control inflammation.

Treatment List for Behcet's Disease

The list of treatments mentioned in various sources for Behcet's Disease includes the following list. Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment or change in treatment plans.

Behcet's Disease: Is the Diagnosis Correct?

The first step in getting correct treatment is to get a correct diagnosis. Differential diagnosis list for Behcet's Disease may include:

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Products, offers and promotion categories available for Behcet's Disease:

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Unlabeled Drugs and Medications to treat Behcet's Disease:

Unlabelled alternative drug treatments for Behcet's Disease include:

Discussion of treatments for Behcet's Disease:

NINDS Behcet's Disease Information Page: NINDS (Excerpt)

Treatment for Behcet's disease is symptomatic and supportive. Medication may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and/or regulate the immune system. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Behcet's Disease Information Page: NINDS)

Questions and Answers About Behcets Disease: NIAMS (Excerpt)

Although there is no cure for Behçet’s disease, people can usually control their symptoms with proper medication, rest, and exercise. Treatment goals are to reduce discomfort and prevent serious complications such as disability from arthritis or blindness. The type of medicine and the length of treatment depend on the person’s symptoms and their severity.

It is likely that a combination of treatments will be needed to relieve specific symptoms. Patients should tell each of their doctors about all of the medicines they are taking so that the doctors can coordinate treatment.

Topical Medicine

Topical medicine is applied directly on the sores to relieve pain and discomfort. For example, doctors prescribe rinses to treat mouth sores. Creams are used to treat skin and genital sores. The medicine usually contains corticosteroids, which reduce inflammation, or an anesthetic, which relieves pain.

Oral Medicine

Doctors also prescribe medicines taken by mouth to reduce inflammation throughout the body, suppress the overactive immune system, and relieve symptoms. Doctors may prescribe one or more of the medicines described below to treat the various symptoms of Behçet’s disease.

  • Corticosteroids—Prednisone is a corticosteroid prescribed to reduce pain and swelling throughout the body in people with severe joint pain and inflammation, skin sores, eye disease, or central nervous system symptoms. Patients must carefully follow the doctor's instructions about when to take prednisone and how much to take. It is also important not to stop taking the medicine suddenly because it alters the body's production of the natural corticosteroid hormones. Long-term use of prednisone can have side effects such as osteoporosis, weight gain, delayed wound healing, persistent heartburn, and elevated blood pressure. However, these side effects are rare when prednisone is taken at low doses for a short time. It is important that patients see their doctor regularly to monitor possible side effects.
  • Immunosuppressive drugs—Medicines (including corticosteriods) that help control an overactive immune system, such as is the case in people with Behçet's disease, reduce inflammation throughout the body and can lessen the number of flares. Doctors may use immunosuppressive drugs when a person has eye disease or central nervous system involvement. These medicines are very strong and can have serious side effects. Patients must see their doctor regularly for blood tests to detect and monitor side effects.

Depending on the person's specific symptoms, doctors may use one or more of the following immunosuppressive drugs:

  • Azathioprine—Most commonly prescribed for people with organ transplants because it suppresses the immune system, azathioprine is now used to treat uveitis and central nervous system involvement in Behçet's disease. This medicine can upset the stomach and may reduce the production of new blood cells by the bone marrow.
  • Chlorambucil—Doctors use chlorambucil to treat uveitis and meningoencephalitis. People taking chlorambucil must see their doctor frequently because it can have serious side effects, such as permanent sterility and cancers of the blood. Patients need regular blood tests to monitor blood counts of white cells and platelets.
  • Cyclosporine—Like azathioprine, doctors prescribe this medicine for people with organ transplants. When used by patients with Behçet's disease, cyclosporine reduces uveitis and central nervous system involvement. To reduce the risk of side effects, such as kidney and liver disease, the doctor can adjust the dose. Patients must tell their doctor if they take any other medicines, because some affect the way the body uses cyclosporine.
  • Colchicine—Commonly used to treat gout, which is a form of arthritis, colchicine reduces inflammation throughout the body. The medicine is sometimes used to treat eye inflammation and skin symptoms in patients with Behçet's disease. Common side effects of colchicine include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The doctor can decrease the dose to relieve these side effects.

If these medicines do not reduce symptoms, doctors may use other drugs such as cyclophosphamide and methotrexate. Cyclophosphamide is similar to chlorambucil. Methotrexate, which is also used to treat various kinds of cancer as well as rheumatoid arthritis, can relieve Behçet’s symptoms because it suppresses the immune system and reduces inflammation throughout the body.

Rest and Exercise

Although rest is important during flares, doctors usually recommend moderate exercise, such as swimming or walking, when the symptoms have improved or disappeared. Exercise can help people with Behçet's disease keep their joints strong and flexible. (Source: excerpt from Questions and Answers About Behcets Disease: NIAMS)

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