Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 20, 2022
1 / 11

Choose the Right Moisturizer

Psoriasis skin care starts with a rich cream. It can stop moisture loss, soothe and hydrate irritated skin, and help repair the all-important barrier layer that protects your skin. During the day, you might want a lighter moisturizer to avoid a greasy feel. Look for those with humectants, which are ingredients like glycerin that seal in water. At night, plain petroleum jelly works great.

2 / 11

Do a Skin Care Product Makeover

You’ve replaced deodorant soaps with the gentlest cleansers and richest moisturizing creams. But have you checked whether everything you use is fragrance-free? That’s not the same as “unscented,” which could contain perfumes that hide natural scents of other ingredients. Your fingertips are the only skin care “tools” you need. Skip exfoliators, abrasive body sponges, loofahs, and even washcloths.

3 / 11

Bath and Shower Skin Savers

A soak or spritz can help put moisture back in your skin, as long as you lock it in. Water should be warm, never hot. Timing matters: Under 5 minutes in the shower, under 15 in the tub (add colloidal oatmeal or Epsom salts for added relief). As soon as you get out, blot skin gently, then slather on body cream or lotion. Creams work better yet are more likely to rub off on clothes. So this may work best as a nighttime ritual. 

4 / 11

Play It Safe With Corticosteroids

Skin care products with corticosteroids can be quite effective. But use them with care, even the over-the-counter ones. Unless your doctor says otherwise, apply them only once a day during flares. During remission, aim for every other day or even weekends-only. If you use a prescription-strength corticosteroid product, follow your doctor's instructions to the letter. Overuse may make it less effective or cause side effects.

5 / 11

Anti-Itch Products and Techniques

Try an anti-itch product made just for psoriasis, with hydrocortisone, calamine, camphor, or menthol. Look for one in a moisturizing formula to reduce the risk of irritation. For quick, low-cost relief, wrap a cooling compress or ice pack in a cotton or bamboo pillowcase and put it right on itchy plaques.

6 / 11

Safer Scale Removal

Fewer scales equal less itch. As tempting as it might be to scratch them off, you want to soften and then remove them gently. Look for products with the National Psoriasis Foundation Seal of Recognition that contain salicylic acid, which effectively loosens scales. Lactic acid and urea can also help. But don’t overdo. That could make your skin worse.

7 / 11

Consider Alternative Remedies

There’s some evidence that certain alternative remedies can help soothe irritated skin. You may know aloe vera as a sunburn soother. But one of its ingredients is the same salicylic acid found in scale-softening products. Try an aloe extract cream on your hot spots. Or try an ointment with capsaicin, an  ingredient in hot peppers. Often used to relieve pain, it may also lessen the itchiness and redness of psoriasis.

8 / 11

Don't Forget Nail Care

Don't neglect your nails, especially if you have psoriasis there. Keeping nails short helps keep you from scratching and catching them on things. Soak your fingertips before clipping. Cut straight across, then use a file to round the corners. A coat of polish will help protect them. But skip fake fingernails and decals. Wear gloves for house and yard chores to protect both nails and hands.

9 / 11

A Humidifier Can Help

Dry air does a number on your skin. It can lead to more plaques and more cracking. Both air-conditioning in summer and heating in winter can make skin feel drier and itchier. Invest in a humidifier to put moisture back in your home, especially your bedroom. Look for one with the National Psoriasis Foundation  Seal of Recognition.

10 / 11

Try Plastic Wrap Therapy

Daily wrap therapy helps creams and lotions penetrate your skin to restore its protective barrier. It's also known as occlusive therapy. Simply apply your ointment, then cover the area with the same plastic wrap you use in the kitchen. When you wrap at night, choose a thick cream or petroleum jelly. It's messy but effective.

11 / 11

Try Wet Wrap Therapy

A similar method, wet wrap therapy, is especially good for inflamed skin. Instead of plastic wrap, it uses two layers of cloth on top of a cream or lotion. First, you apply a warm, moist cloth. Then you wrap a dry cloth on top of that. One small study found that using the wraps over corticosteroid cream two to four times a day improved symptoms after just 24 hours. (Check with your doctor before trying this.)

Show Sources

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

  1. SOMNATH MAHATA / Getty Images
  2. PeopleImages / Getty Images
  3. Peopleimages / Getty Images
  4. Tim Grist Photography / Getty Images
  5. WebMD
  6. helivideo / Getty Images
  7. Rita Saitta / EyeEm / Getty Images
  8. Rolf Bruderer / Getty Images
  9. zhihao / Getty Images
  10. WebMD
  11. SilviaJansen / Getty Images

 

SOURCES:

Life: “Study of Skin Barrier Function in Psoriasis: The Impact of Emollients.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “8 Ways to Stop Baths and Showers From Worsening Your Psoriasis,” “What Psoriasis Treatments Are Available Without a Prescription?” “8 Ways to Relieve Itchy Psoriasis,” “7 Nail-Care Tips That Can Reduce Nail Psoriasis,” "How to Trim Nails."

Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine: “Epidermal barrier changes in patients with psoriasis: The role of phototherapy.”

Mayo Clinic: “Psoriasis.”

National Psoriasis Foundation: “Must-Have Lotions,” “Seal of Recognition

Product Directory,” “Life with Psoriasis.”

Wexner Medical: “This skin-care toolkit can help psoriasis.”

International Journal of Dermatology: “Basis of occlusive therapy in psoriasis: correcting defects in permeability barrier and calcium gradient.”

Indian Dermatology Online Journal: “Topical Therapies in Psoriasis.”

Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia (Official Publication of the Brazilian Society of Dermatology): “Wet wrap dressings as a rescue therapy option for erythrodermic psoriasis.”

The Medical Journal of Australia: “Beyond skin deep: addressing comorbidities in psoriasis.”