Ways to Safely Remove Psoriasis Patches
The most common -- and uncomfortable -- symptom of psoriasis is patches of thick, red skin. They’re often covered with white or silvery scales. You can remove these flakes.
Taking off the dead skin helps medications and ointments work better. It can also help you feel better about how you look. But you need to do it safely to avoid pain, infection, and bleeding.
1. Use an exfoliating acid. Applied to the skin, products with these acids work by weakening the bonds between skin cells. This causes the outer layer to shed, which softens and removes scales. You can buy creams, lotions, gels, ointments, foams, and shampoos with these acids. They’re available over the counter (OTC) or in stronger doses by prescription. Side effects include irritation, stinging, and burning.
Some used for psoriasis include:
Salicylic acid: Also found in acne medicines, it’s one of the most common treatments for psoriasis. By softening a protein in your skin called keratin, salicylic acid helps psoriasis scales come off faster. Make sure to follow your doctor’s orders when you apply it. If too much is absorbed into your body, it can cause health problems. You shouldn’t apply it to large areas of skin or leave it on for long periods of time. And children shouldn’t use products that contain it at all.
Alpha-hydroxy acids: This category includes glycolic and lactic acids. They may be as effective as salicylic acid, but gentler on the skin.
Urea: This thins and moisturizes the skin.
2. Consider coal tar. This smelly, sticky substance has been used to treat psoriasis for more than 100 years. Like exfoliating acids, it also causes you to shed the outer layer of dead skin. It can also reduce the inflammation and itching of psoriasis.
It comes in a variety of forms, such as soaps, creams, and lotions. Coal tar can stain your clothing. It also makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Studies show it works best in people who are also taking steroids for their skin.
3. Lock-in moisture. When you pick off dry scales, it can result in dots of blood. This is called pinpoint bleeding. To prevent it, you should first soften the dead skin with moisture before you pick it. Apply a heavy ointment or oil, such as vitamin E. Then cover the area with plastic wrap for a few hours or overnight.