Skin care for psoriasis


How to Get Glowing Skin When You Have Psoriasis

Carolyn Jacob, MD, director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, doesn’t just treat patients with psoriasis — she manages her own. Dr. Jacob has been living with psoriasis since she was 14 years old.

Jacob’s psoriasis primarily affects her scalp and nails, both of which can be tough to hide. “I hated it when I had scalp involvement, which would show flakes on my clothing and itch constantly,” Jacob says.

Embarrassed about her nails, Jacob used to paint them a color that would mask her psoriasis symptoms. The National Psoriasis Foundation says that about half of all people with psoriasis will have symptoms affecting the nails, which can include changes in color, thickening of the nails, separation of the nail, and the formation of pits or holes.

An Accessible Skin Care Routine

For healthy skin, Jacob knows she has to keep her skin clear and moisturized as much as possible. She uses CeraVe cleanser, available at many drugstores. “It adds ceramides to the skin, which help to rebalance the natural moisturizing factor in your skin,” she says. She follows that up with CeraVe lotion.

Other daily psoriasis treatment tips that Jacob offers her patients and practices herself include:

  • Cleanse and moisturize your skin just once daily to avoid drying.
  • Use a soft cloth or your hands to lather up with cleanser; never use a loofah on skin that’s actively flaring because the rubbing and scratching could worsen symptoms.
  • If you have psoriasis on your face, Jacob advises against using harsh toners because they can be aggravating.
  • During the frigid Chicago winters, Jacob switches to a cream or moisturizing cream from a lighter lotion because it’s more hydrating for thirsty winter skin.
  • For scalp psoriasis, she recommends over-the-counter favorites like Neutrogena T/Gel, DHS tar shampoos, or those containing salicylic acid (her personal pick is Neutrogena T/Sal.) For something stronger, she likes Clobex, a steroid shampoo that you can get with a prescription from your dermatologist.

When Jacob’s psoriasis flares, she turns to a prescription Avène product called Akérat cream because it contains exfoliators and softeners to soothe the skin.

Daily Psoriasis Treatment Starts from the Inside Out

Jacob knows that psoriasis and its treatments are more than just skin deep. She sticks to a healthy, balanced diet to help keep inflammation down and her symptoms in check. She eats salmon and walnuts for the omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and promote better heart health. Jacob also takes omega-3 supplements for an extra boost. “They are great for inflammatory conditions, especially psoriasis, and they help balance cholesterol levels and improve your skin texture,” she explains. The heart-healthy supplements can prove particularly beneficial since people with psoriasis have a 58 percent greater chance of suffering a major cardiovascular event like a heart attack, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.

Stress is also a trigger for psoriasis, so Jacob tries to keep it in check, particularly by exercising. With twin toddlers and a busy schedule, she has to make time to work out. How does she fit it in? “I get up early to exercise so it is done for the day,” she says. It’s a prudent strategy that’s backed by a study from the August 2012 issue of Archives of Dermatology, which found that women who engaged in regular vigorous exercise were less likely to develop psoriasis.

Another of Jacob’s secrets: avoiding alcohol. “It makes stress worse and makes psoriasis worse,” she says. The National Psoriasis Foundation notes that alcohol can interfere with psoriasis treatments and causes side effects when combined with many psoriasis medications. Plus, alcohol can change the way you perceive and manage your stress, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Find What Works for You

Jacob’s psoriasis is now well controlled with biologic medications, and she says her skin, scalp, and nails stay pretty healthy. Her best advice? Work with your dermatologist to find the right treatment for you.

“The availability of biologic medications was life changing — to not have to deal with other messy medicines that do not work well, to not itch, and to have normal nails is wonderful,” she says. “This type of treatment makes me feel like a normal person again!”

Anyone living with psoriasis (hey, Kim Kardashian West and Cara Delevingne) will know how itchy and sore it can be. On top of the physical symptoms, it can also affect self esteem and confidence due to the patches of dry skin it causes, which can often be very red and cracked. To mark National Psoriasis Awareness Week, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the skin condition.

What is psoriasis and what does it look like?

“Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red, flakey, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales. It’s often worse on the elbows, knees, scalp and back, but can occur anywhere,” says Dr Clare Morrison, GP and Medical Advisor at Medexpress. “In this condition, skin cells build up too thickly instead of being shed normally.” Skin cells are normally created and replaced every 3-4 weeks, but in those who suffer from psoriasis, this process only tends to take 3-7 days. The result is the build up of cells that we recognise as psoriasis.

It’s important to stress that psoriasis isn’t simply dry skin. It’s a long-lasting, chronic disease which usually involves periods where it disappears altogether, as well as periods where it’s mild and followed by severe. There are many types of psoriasis including plaque (large lesions covered by scales), guttate (which show up as small red teardrop-shaped spots with fine scales), inverse (red, shiny, smooth lesions found in the folds of the body such as the armpit or groin), pustular (clearly defined, red bumps filled with pus) and erythrodermic (an uncommon form that can present itself as a hot, peeling rash across the entire body). Patients can suffer from one or multiple types and this can lead to psoriatic arthritis (inflamed and swollen joints caused by psoriasis).

What is the main cause of psoriasis? And is psoriasis caused by stress?

“Psoriasis is often genetic, meaning that you’re more at risk if close relatives have it,” says Dr Claire. “The exact cause isn’t known, but it’s thought to be triggered by a fault in the immune system.” The immune system provides your body’s main defence against disease and infection, but in the case of psoriasis, it launches as attack against healthy skin cells mistakenly.

“Stress can certainly be a trigger, as can trauma to the skin, certain medications, hormone changes, and throat infections, for example,” says Dr Claire.

Can psoriasis go away?

“Psoriasis can disappear spontaneously,” says Dr Claire. Often it can go into remission for long periods of time, either of its own accord or thanks to medicine helping to manage it. “It may come back, but not always,” explains Dr Claire.

Are there certain triggers that can make psoriasis worse?

“Psoriasis can be aggravated by cold, dry weather, smoking, alcohol, and being overweight,” says Dr Claire. “Skin damage, including cuts, scratches, and sunburn, can also make it worse.” And, “in some people, diet can make a difference. The main culprits are thought to be gluten, and nightshade vegetables (such as tomatoes, potatoes and aubergine),” says Dr Claire.

What is the best treatment for psoriasis?

While there’s no complete cure, there are many things that help alleviate symptoms. “Most psoriasis treatments are creams or ointments. These include coal tar, steroids, vitamin D analogues such as calcipotriol, retinoids, salicylic acid, and moisturisers,” explains Dr Claire. “In severe cases, ultraviolet light can administered in the dermatology clinic, after first sensitising the skin with psoralen. Other treatments include oral immunosuppressants such as methotrexate. However, this isn’t suitable for women who may become pregnant, and can cause problems such as liver disease.”

Salicylic acid is the holy grail ingredient for tackling stubborn spots. Here’s how it works


Salicylic acid is the holy grail ingredient for tackling stubborn spots. Here’s how it works

Elle Turner and Lottie Winter

  • Skincare
  • 06 Nov 2019
  • 5 items
  • Elle Turner and Lottie Winter

Are there any products that you recommend?

“The best choice depends on the extent of the condition, the type of psoriasis, and where it is on the body. However, in principle, it’s best to start with something relatively simple,” says Dr Claire. Look through ingredients list to identify potential triggers (such as fragrance, alcohol and sulphates) and stick to minimal, calming formulas with soothing ingredients (like shea butter, oatmeal and aloe vera). If it doesn’t seem to be helping, “change to an alternative if there isn’t a good response.”

The beauty industry has a plethora of nourishing and soothing skincare solutions, many of which have been dermatologically-approved to be suitable for even the most sensitive skins, as well as high-coverage, long-wearing body makeup should you wish to conceal any areas of concern.

CeraVe Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream

Psoriasis-prone skin needs gentle exfoliation soothing, skin-strengthening ingredients and extra hydration. A psoriasis cream with salicylic acid can help relieve skin scaling, help prevent reoccurrence and lactic acid helps deliver smoother skin as well. A nourishing formula with niacinamide to calm the skin and ceramides to help reinforce the skin’s barrier and maintain hydration levels is key for comfortable, clear skin.

CeraVe Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream was designed with dermatologists to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis and moisturize dry skin while relieving skin scaling and itching. With 2% salicylic acid to provide relief from psoriasis symptoms, lactic acid for mild exfoliation, three essential ceramides to promote optimal skin-barrier function, moisturizing shea butter and urea, plus soothing niacinamide, this non-irritating psoriasis moisturizer features patented MVE Technology that continually releases nourishing ingredients for 24 hours to help provide smoother skin.

  • Relieves psoriasis symptoms and helps prevent reoccurrence
  • 2% salicylic acid relieves skin itching, scaling, redness, flaking and irritation associated with psoriasis
  • Mildly exfoliates with lactic acid
  • Hydrates and softens skin with shea butter, glycerin, dimethicone and urea
  • Relieves skin redness, scaling and itching
  • MVE Technology: This patented delivery system continually releases moisturizing ingredients for 24-hour hydration
  • Ceramides: Essential for healthy skin, ceramides help restore and maintain the skin’s natural barrier
  • Niacinamide: Helps a compromised skin barrier while improving the appearance of the skin
  • Non-comedogenic, non-irritating and fragrance-free
  • Developed with dermatologists

The Best Face Wash For Psoriasis

You can’t use just any face wash if you have psoriasis.

If you’ve got psoriasis, you don’t need us to tell you how difficult it can be to find a face wash that works for your sensitive skin condition. “Psoriasis is a condition in which your immune system gets angry at your skin, which leads to inflammation,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist in NYC. “It can cause red, scaly plaques that typically affect the elbows and knees. But it can also occur on the scalp and even the face.” If you suffer from these painful scales, you’ve likely gone nuts searching for the best face wash for psoriasis. But are you sure you’re looking for the right thing?

There are a few things to keep in mind, according to Zeichner. “You want to stick to gentle, hydrating face washes that will effectively clean the skin without disrupting the skin barrier or cause inflammation,” he says. You should absolutely avoid exfoliation, however — whether it’s physical or chemical — because it can just exacerbate the inflammation you’re experiencing.”

Most face washes that are formulated for sensitive skin should be fine for folks with psoriasis. But there are some that are better than others. Ahead, you’ll find the five best face washes for psoriasis. Just because your immune system gets angry at your skin doesn’t mean you have to, too.

Read on: The Best Face Wash For Psoriasis

Last Updated on Jan 14, 2020

Itchy, flaky, scaly skin is the hallmark of psoriasis. While some cases need medical attention, many people manage this skin condition at home. They use moisturizing creams and the best body washes to nourish dry skin.

Following are our top picks for moisturizing soaps that relieve and reduce the symptoms of psoriasis.

Best Body Washes & Soaps for Psoriasis in 2020

1. Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief Body Wash, Fragrance-Free

Aveeno’s Active Naturals Skin Relief Body Wash is a favorite purchase for many customers dealing with psoriasis. It’s free from artificial fragrances, which are a common irritant of sensitive skin. And it’s mild enough to use every day or even as a shaving lotion.

The formula is free from soaps and eyes, too. But the main itch-relieving ingredient is oatmeal. This body wash contains both oat kernel oil as well as oat flour. And if that’s not enough to stop the scratching, check out the next product below.

2. Aveeno Fragrance-Free Soothing Bath Treatment

Aveeno’s soothing bath treatment is 100% pure colloidal oatmeal divided into single-use packets. They oatmeal is milled to a very fine powder that makes bath water look like milk. If you are experiencing a flare-up of psoriasis, try soaking in a lukewarm bath to soften the skin and relieve the irritation.

Interestingly enough, the bath treatment can replace shower gel. That’s because grime sticks to the oatmeal particles which then rinse away clean.

3. NIVEA Creme Moisture Moisturizing Body Wash

Nivea’s Crème Moisture body wash is like a soap version of their classic cream. It calms dry skin and seals in water to hydrate dry skin. Some users comment that they don’t even bother with lotion after bathing with this product.

4. Cetaphil Pro Restoraderm Gentle Body Wash

The Restoraderm Gentle Body Wash is safe to use on anyone over the age of three months. It cleanses very dry skin without stripping natural oils. Moreover, it’s recommended for people with eczema and psoriasis as well as those prone to atopic dermatitis.

The list of ingredients resembles a body lotion more than a soap. That’s because you’ll find shea butter, glycerin, sunflower seed oil, and niacinamide. These are all components that lock in moisture.

5.The Seaweed Bath Co. Purifying Detox Body Wash

The detox body wash from the Seaweed Bath Co. comes in three fragrances with natural scents. All of them are vegan products free of parabens and gluten. Moreover, their main ingredients include coconut oil, vitamin-rich bladderwrack seaweed, spirulina, and green coffee bean extract. It’s a recipe sure to nourish your skin.

6. Eucerin Skin Calming Body Wash

The Eucerin Skin Calming wash doesn’t foam up much, but it washes away grime without stripping moisture from the skin. It’s free of fragrances, detergent, and dyes. Plus, it’s packed with oils to soothe and calm itchy dryness.

7. Everyone 3-In-1 Soap, Lavender plus Aloe

The Everyone Soap with lavender and aloe doubles as a shampoo and a shave cream. It relies on cocoa-sulfate to create a pleasant lather. Therefore, it doesn’t have harsh drying sulfates, artificial scents, or parabens.

8. Aloe Vesta Body Wash & Shampoo

The Aloe Vesta body is also a shampoo. This fact allows it to treat psoriasis on your scalp and body in the shower or in the bath. In a pinch, you can use it as a no-rinse cleanser, too.

9. Dove DermaSeries Fragrance-Free Body Wash

Dove’s fragrance-free body wash defends sensitive skin from itching and dryness. It’s clinically proven to be very gentle but moisturizing. Furthermore, the formula has plant oils and lipids and plant oils to moisturize the skin.

10. ApotheCARE Essentials The Nourisher Body Wash

Well-known soap manufacturer Unilever released the ApotheCARE Essentials nourishing body wash packed with natural ingredients. It’s specifically made for very dry skin. And the list of ingredients sounds quite tasty.

It includes cold-pressed sweet almonds, hand-pollinated vanilla, and crushed Moroccan argan oil. But there’s also burdock and sage to purify the skin, white willow to soothe it, and seabuckthorn to rejuvenate it. Also, there are no dyes or sulfates.

11. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil’s Gentle Cleanser is a frequent purchase for persons with very sensitive skin. It guards against irritation by cleaning without stripping oils. It can even be used to wash without water. Additionally, it’s hypoallergenic and free of fragrances.

12. Organic African Black Soap from Sky Organics

The liquid African Black Soap contains unrefined organic shea butter, coconut oil, and plantain skin ash. The last ingredient is rich in vitamins and minerals. This combination promotes healthy skin while it seals in moisture.

Fans of this soap say that it leaves their skin smooth and soft. Not only does it gently exfoliate, but it also revitalizes dry skin. In summary, if you don’t love it, the manufacturer offers a money-back guarantee.

13. CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash

The CeraVe body wash contains ceramides that enhance the skin’s natural barrier against dryness. As a result, this formula is often suggested by dermatologists. Moreover, it lacks artificial fragrances, sulfates, and parabens.

14. Aspen Kay Naturals Dead Sea Mud Soap Bar 100% Organic & Natural

The Dead Sea Mud Bar is a much-loved soap for customers who want to purify their skin. It draws out toxins as it washes away dirt, but it doesn’t have preservatives or other chemicals. Plus, it has a mild exfoliating effect to get rid of dead skin.

According to the manufacturer, the soap is safe to use on both your body or your face. It’s created for men and women who want relief for dry skin caused by psoriasis or eczema. Finally, if you’re not happy to purchase, the company offers a full refund.

15. Coal Tar Soap from Soap Works

If coal tar shampoos relieve psoriasis on the scalp, then coal tar soap can alleviate symptoms on the body. This traditional formula doesn’t have sulfates or phosphates although it has a fragrance. The fragrance is derived from geranium, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils.

16. Human + Kind Normal to Sensitive Skin Body Wash

The Human Kind body wash does not contain harsh sulfates. Instead, it has aloe and calendula that soothe irritation and draw in moisture. Users report that they love its mild apple fragrance.

17. Hydromol Bath & Shower Emollient Additive

If you find that there just isn’t a body wash that adequately hydrates your skin, try the Hydromol Emollient Additive. You can use it in the bath or the shower. It contains emollient oils that clean and soothe dry skin. As a result, you can enjoy it every day.

Tips for managing psoriasis and reducing symptoms

Although there is no cure for psoriasis, there are many ways you can reduce the symptoms and manage outbreaks. Of course, the way you bathe has a big impact on how healthy your skin is.


For example, it’s customary to shower at least once a day to remove excess oil, bacteria, and dirt. But for persons with psoriasis, this can be a difficult experience as it can dry out their skin.

Whenever you shower or bathe, use lukewarm water, not hot. This avoids irritating the plaques and releasing too much moisture from your skin.

If you like to soak in the tub, use a product like Aveeno’s Bath Treatment or the Hydromol Emollient. They will protect your skin. If you don’t have either one available, try plain oatmeal, Epson salt, or olive oil. But keep bathes to 15 minutes or less.

When there is an especially itchy spot, try covering it with a cold, wet cloth for a while. Adding moisture to your skin will help relieve the problem. Then follow up with your customary lotion or cream.

After you rinse well, pat dry instead of rubbing with a towel. Then always apply moisturizer.


It’s a good idea to run your clothes through the rinse cycle twice. This gets rid of soap and fabric softener residue.

Next, you’ll probably find that natural fibers like linen, cotton, and bamboo are much more comfortable than synthetics or wool. Choose a soft fabric that isn’t too tight and doesn’t rub sensitive areas. Plus, if you wear light colors, it’s harder to notice flakes.


While too much time in the sun can lead to burning and irritate acne prone skin, a little bit will help clear up psoriasis. Studies show that UV light in small doses can speed up healing and slow down scale formation.


It’s worth it to invest in one of the best body washes to protect your skin from dryness. Plus, it’s vital to use a high-quality moisturizer as well. Speak to your doctor about using occlusion to seal in hydration while you sleep. Covering the cream or ointment on your skin will help the treatment to penetrate and soften scales.

Removing scales

It’s possible to remove the buildup of dead skin that psoriasis causes safely. But it requires patience and a little work. As tempting as it may be, it’s not wise to pick them off with your fingers. You could cause a secondary infection that creates additional problems.

Once you remove the extra layers, it makes it easier for topical treatments to penetrate. There are a few ways to exfoliate the dead skin without harming the layers underneath.

One method is to use chemical exfoliants like salicylic, glycolic, or lactic acid. Coal tar is another favorite ingredient in psoriasis shampoos. But harsh abrasives with particles of apricot seeds or nut shells can tear the skin on a microscopic level, so avoid them if possible.

A second technique is to use a moisturizer with exfoliating ingredients like urea. Urea takes a while to work, but it relieves itching by acting as a mild anesthetic.

A faster solution might be taking a bath with Epson salt to soften the scales. Then you can carefully loosen them a little at a time.

Finally, you can sleep on it. Apply a thick layer of your favorite cream or natural oil and let it work overnight. Chances are, in the morning you’ll be able to peel off the plaque.


The best body washes for psoriasis will help you get clean without overly drying your skin. Not only do they moisturize, but they also relieve itching. We hope we helped you find the best bath soap to care for sensitive, dry skin today.

Skin Care and Psoriasis: What to Look for in a Lotion

Daily care is essential in managing psoriasis. Although prescription topical treatments may be the best method for alleviating severe psoriasis symptoms, OTC emollients can also bring relief to those with milder psoriasis. They may also be used in combination with other treatments.

Emollients create a barrier on the skin’s surface. The barrier protects the surface with oils and allows the skin to rehydrate. This helps to reduce skin dryness and irritation.

Lotions, creams, and ointments can help reduce scaling, as well as soften and smooth skin. You can apply a variety of emollients on a daily basis. However, not all lotions are good for psoriasis, and some may exacerbate your symptoms.

Important ingredients

Certain ingredients found in emollients are known to help with psoriasis symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the ingredients salicylic acid and coal tar for treating psoriasis.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic, or a peeling agent. It helps the outer layer of the skin to shed. It can lift psoriasis scales and soften the skin.

Tip: Be careful when using products with salicylic acid. Overuse can result in skin irritation and weakened hair shafts.

Coal tar

Coal tar can slow rapid skin cell growth, improve the skin’s appearance, and reduce itching. People commonly use it on the scalp. Products containing coal tar vary from one brand to another, so test it on a small area of the skin when trying it for the first time.

Tip: Coal tar can cause irritation, as well as stain clothing and light-colored hair. It can also cause your skin to be more sensitive to the sun.

Other ingredients that may help

Other ingredients that can help psoriasis symptoms include:

  • aloe vera
  • jojoba
  • zinc pyrithione
  • capsaicin
  • glycerin

Be sure to limit your exposure to topical products that contain steroids. You shouldn’t use steroids throughout the day. Talk to your doctor about the long-term use of products that contain steroids and other active ingredients. Emollients are free of steroids, and you can use them liberally and frequently.

Specific products to explore

Psoriasis responds differently to certain emollients depending on the person. It’s important that you try different products and determine a skin care routine that works best for you. Although high-end emollients are available, cheaper solutions such as certain cooking oils and shortening can help dry and irritated skin.

The National Psoriasis Foundation recognizes several OTC emollient products to treat psoriasis symptoms. These include:

  • Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
  • Psoriasin Gel
  • MG217 Medicated Coal Tar Ointment
  • MG217 Medicated Multi-Symptom Moisturizing Cream

Other lotions that can help psoriasis are found at most pharmacies and grocery stores. The foundation also recommends products by:

  • Eucerin
  • Lubriderm
  • Cetaphil
  • CeraVe
  • Aveeno

Be sure to select hypoallergenic and alcohol-, fragrance-, and dye-free products to lessen the chance of skin irritation.

Lotions, creams, and ointments for psoriasis

Share on PinterestHow the product affects a person will depend on its ingredients.

Various types of lotions, creams, and ointments are available, depending on their active ingredients and whether they are available over the counter or through prescription.

The following products and ingredients can help treat psoriasis:

  • retinoids
  • coal tar
  • synthetic vitamin D
  • anthralin
  • salicylic acid
  • corticosteroids
  • calcineurin inhibitors

Natural ingredients, such as aloe vera and jojoba, may have a soothing effect, but no research supports their use in psoriasis. A doctor may advise a person to choose a thick, fragrance-free lotion that is suitable for sensitive skin.

Coal tar, pine tar, and salicylic acid also feature in soaps for psoriasis. Find out more here.

What are retinoids?

Retinoids are a form of vitamin A that can speed up the body’s skin-shedding process and slow the growth of skin cells. Tazarotene is a retinoid that doctors may prescribe for psoriasis.

When a person applies them to a psoriasis plaque, retinoids enable the body to shed the excess skin that has built up. This helps reduce the inflamed and scaly appearance and calm the feeling of discomfort.

A doctor may recommend combining tazarotene with a corticosteroid.

The treatment can sometimes irritate the skin. If this happens, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommend first applying petroleum jelly around the skin patches, then applying the retinoid to the psoriasis only.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued a warning about exposure to sunlight while using retinoids. A person should use sunscreen if they cannot avoid exposure to the sun and consider wearing protective clothing, as too much sun exposure can also worsen psoriasis symptoms in some people.

What is coal tar?

Coal tar products are available over the counter or by prescription.

They can help make the affected skin look healthier and slow down the growth of new skin cells. Coal tar is often an ingredient in lotions.

In some places, coal tar products carry a warning that they may cause cancer. However, these warnings stem from research into animals and industrial exposure.

The AAD note that there is no evidence of coal tar products leading to cancer when people use them for psoriasis.

A product may contain up to 5% coal tar. Using a stronger one does not necessarily mean it will be more effective, according to the AAD.

Some coal tar treatments need a prescription, but many are available over the counter.

What is synthetic vitamin D?

People with psoriasis can use lotions and creams containing synthetic vitamin D to slow the growth of new skin cells.

These can help:

  • reduce the accumulation of skin cells
  • flatten thick patches
  • remove scales

Some lotions containing vitamin D may irritate a person’s skin, but it is safe for most people to use, including children.

When people use them in excess on large areas of the body, it can increase calcium levels in the blood, increasing the risk of kidney stones and other problems. However, a person who follows the doctor’s instructions is unlikely to experience adverse effects.

What is anthralin?

Anthralin slows the growth of new skin cells and helps reduce the swelling that can occur with psoriasis symptoms. People have been using anthralin to treat psoriasis for more than 80 years.

It is effective but can have some adverse effects, such as temporary discoloration of the skin and clothing and irritation and burning sensation on the skin. For these reasons, a doctor may not recommend its use.

Trials are currently underway to find new ways of preparing anthralin that will not have these disadvantages.

What is salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid helps remove the scaly appearance of psoriasis patches. It is a keratolytic agent, which means it can help the skin shed its outer layers.

People with psoriasis often use salicylic acid alongside other medicated creams because the salicylic acid allows the other creams to penetrate the skin more effectively.

Some products will need a prescription, but others are available over the counter.

What are corticosteroids?

Corticosteroids are a type of steroid that helps reduce swelling and inflammation. They also help to slow the growth of new skin cells.

A doctor can recommend a suitable strength corticosteroid, depending on:

  • individual skin sensitivity
  • symptom severity
  • the area of the body needing treatment

Corticosteroids can have adverse effects if a person uses them for a long time. A doctor or pharmacist can advise on their application.

A product containing steroids may need a prescription.

What are calcineurin inhibitors?

Calcineurin inhibitors are not available in lotions but are in cream and ointment form. They need a prescription.

Calcineurin inhibitors include pimecrolimus and tacrolimus.

People with psoriasis may use calcineurin inhibitors when other medications are not working as well as a doctor hoped. They can help reduce and stop inflammation. Their primary use is for eczema, but a doctor may prescribe them “off-label” for psoriasis.

Doctors may recommend these medicines because they are safe to use on thin areas of the skin, such as the groin and face. These are areas that are not suitable for long-term topical corticosteroid use, due to the risk of adverse effects.

The ingredients in these medications can sometimes cause a burning or itching sensation. Anyone with concerns about worsening symptoms or unwanted side effects should speak to their doctor.

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