Menu

Managing Psoriasis Scarring

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on July 11, 2021

If you have psoriasis, it’s likely you’ve wished for your raised, red, scaly, silvery plaques to go away. Even when they do go away, they may leave behind light or dark spots on your skin. This is very common. Almost a quarter of patients with psoriasis notice it. Usually it resolves on its own. But in the meantime, you may feel self-conscious about it.

There are a few things you can do to help these spots and scars fade faster and even prevent them from popping up in the first place.

 

 

How Psoriasis Scars Form

Psoriasis itself doesn’t cause scarring. But patches can be itchy, which may lead you to scratch them. The more you scratch, the more damage you do to your skin.

Once your psoriasis begins to resolve, it can leave behind dark or light spots. This is called either post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. This happens because psoriasis causes your skin to produce more inflammatory chemicals, which affects how your body processes melanin, or pigment. It’s more noticeable on dark skin.

When dark or light spots appear after your psoriasis patches disappear, don’t assume your psoriasis treatments aren’t working. They are. It’s important you continue to use them, because if you don’t get control over your psoriasis, you have a greater risk of scarring and discoloration.

Treating Psoriasis Dyspigmentation

Most of the time, you don’t need to do anything to treat psoriasis dyspigmentation. It will clear up on its own. It gets better in two stages. In the first 3 months, most of the psoriasis itself clears. Over the next 3 months, you will see a gradual return to normal of skin pigmentation. It can take longer if you have dark skin. If you’re Black, your psoriasis lesions are often thicker-scaled and take time to get under control.

Some tools you can use to speed this process include:

Sunscreen. While UV light itself may improve psoriasis, too much of it can lead to sunburn, which may make your psoriasis worse.

Coal tar. This can help improve the itch associated with psoriasis, which in turn reduces risk of scarring. You can find it in over-the-counter psoriasis shampoos, bath solutions and ointments, and other forms. You can also apply it directly to your psoriasis. Your dermatologist can recommend products and tell you how often to use them.

Skin lighteners. Once your skin has cleared from psoriasis, you can try a skin-lightening product for hyperpigmentation, or dark spots. Look for a product that contains one of the following ingredients:

Always check with your dermatologist before using one of these OTC products, as they may contain other ingredients that may trigger a psoriasis flare.

Light therapy. When your dermatologist applies certain types of light to your skin with this treatment, typically using a laser,  it reduces inflammation and allows your skin to heal.

Preventing Scarring

The best way you can help prevent psoriasis scarring and discoloration is to keep your condition well controlled. Some ways to avoid a psoriasis flare include:

  • Manage stress. It’s been shown to worsen psoriasis.
  • Use bug repellent and sunscreen to prevent injury to your skin.
  • Limit alcohol use. It can make psoriasis medications less effective.
  • Don’t smoke, and avoid others who do.
  • Limit showers and baths to 10 minutes, make them lukewarm, and slather on a fragrance-free moisturizing ointment or cream immediately afterward.
  • Try not to cut yourself during shaving.

Taking the right medications can also get your psoriasis under control. Mild cases can be treated with topical prescription treatments like cortisone creams. More severe cases may require taking oral medications or injections to reduce inflammation. Your dermatologist can help you find the best treatment for you.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: “Characteristics of post-inflammatory hyper- and hypopigmentation in patients with psoriasis: A survey study.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “What can treat the spots that appear when psoriasis clears?” “Psoriasis Treatment: Coal Tar,” “How to Fade Dark Spots in Skin of Color,” “Psoriasis Treatment: Phototherapy,” “Are Triggers Causing Your Psoriasis Flare-Ups.”

National Psoriasis Foundation: “Treating Skin of Color,” “Taking Care of your Skin in the Summer.”

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info