Your Guide to Telehealth for Psoriasis

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7 Shower and Bath Tips for People With Psoriasis

  • Woman in Shower Washing her Hair
    The Best Skin Care Routine for Psoriasis
    More than eight million people in the United States are living with psoriasis, an autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly and pile up into scaly plaques that can itch and burn. For 60% of those with psoriasis, the symptoms seriously interfere with their quality of life. Taking a bath or shower every day can help ease the symptoms, but it’s important to keep some psoriasis-friendly dos and don’ts in mind to help your skin feel better, not worse.
  • Caucasian woman in bathrobe preparing bathtub
    1. Make it warm and quick.
    Taking a hot bath or shower may feel good in the moment, but hot water can irritate your skin and dry it out. Aim for a lukewarm temperature and try not to linger. Don’t stay in the bathtub longer than 15 minutes or in the shower longer than five minutes. While daily bathing can help ease psoriasis symptoms, bathing multiple times a day usually isn’t a good idea. That’s too much time in an environment that depletes the skin’s moisture and makes it harder to repair.
  • Epsom salt
    2. Try salts, oatmeal and oils.
    There are several things you can add to your bath water to help soothe psoriasis itch or slough off extra skin without forcing it. These “additives,” as they’re called, include Epsom salts, Dead Sea salts, oatmeal, and essential oils like lavender, coconut, or black seed. Some essential oils can also be applied directly to the skin and have properties that promote aromatherapy, which for some people, reduces stress–a significant trigger of psoriasis flares. These additives can have different effects on different people, so talk with your doctor before trying them.
  • closeup of bar of coal tar soap with soap bubbles
    3. Consider coal tar.
    Coal tar is made from coal and pine or juniper wood. It’s used as an active ingredient in shampoos, cleansers, and other bath products made for psoriasis. These products can slow down the build-up of skin cells, make skin look smoother, and reduce itching. Not everyone responds well to bath products that contain coal tar, however. For some, these products can have the opposite of a soothing effect, irritating and reddening skin. Ask your dermatologist before you give coal tar a try and apply it to a small patch of skin as a test first.
  • woman in shopping aisle comparing skin care products
    4. Know what products to avoid.
    While the idea of soap may conjure up the very essence of cleanliness and health, traditional soaps contain harsh ingredients like lye, sodium hydroxide, and glycerin that can irritate and dry out your skin, especially if you have psoriasis. Don’t use soap, body wash, or other bath products that contain alcohols, antibacterial ingredients, deodorants, dyes, or added fragrances. Instead, look for fragrance-free, moisturizing options formulated for sensitive skin. Better yet, ask your dermatologist for recommendations.
  • closeup of hand feeling water pouring from removable shower head
    5. Resist the temptation to scrub.
    Use your hands to apply cleanser instead of a washcloth, loofah, bath pouf, mitt, or sponge. All of these bath accessories can irritate your skin. Try not to pick at scales or remove them forcibly even if you think they’re “ready” to come off. You don’t want to cause bleeding or risk infection. When you towel off, pat your skin gently instead of rubbing, and don’t dry your skin completely. Leave it a little damp to better absorb the moisturizer you’ll apply next.
  • closeup of woman's hands using cosmetic cream in bathroom
    6. Don’t forget to moisturize.
    Psoriasis damages your skin, and moisturizers help it heal. Look for moisturizers in the form of heavy ointments and creams versus lighter lotions. Think of the consistency of cooking oils and shortening as a guide. (These products can actually be used to moisturize in a pinch.) Apply moisturizer after you bathe while your skin is still damp to help lock the moisture in and create a barrier between your skin and the air.
  • Woman sleeping under comforter
    7. Cover your skin while you sleep.
    If you bathe right before bedtime, you can try covering your biggest problem areas with plastic wrap, bandage dressing, or fitted clothing like socks or gloves immediately after you moisturize. This process is called occlusion and can further lock in moisture and put it to work for your skin as you sleep. If you bathe earlier in the day, you can still re-moisturize and wrap your skin before going to bed. In the morning, remove the wrap and gently wash away the skin that has flaked off overnight. Before you try occlusion, ask your doctor to recommend the best technique.
Psoriasis Bath | Showering With Psoriasis

About The Author

Evelyn Creekmore has more than 15 years of experience writing online educational health content, including nearly 10 years full-time at WebMD, where she was the director of brand content. She holds an MPH in Applied Public Health Informatics from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and an MA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
  1. Practical tips. The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance. https://www.papaa.org/coping/practical-tips/
  2. Psoriasis Statistics. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/psoriasis-statistics/#:~:text=Prevalence&text=1%5D-,125%20million%20people%20worldwide%E2%80%942%20to%203%20percent%20of%20the,the%20World%20Psoriasis%20Day%20consortium.
  3. About Psoriasis. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/
  4. 8 Ways to Stop Baths and Showers From Worsening Your Psoriasis. American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/skin-care/baths-showers
  5. Over-the-Counter Topicals. National Psoriasis Foundation. https://www.psoriasis.org/over-the-counter/
  6. Psoriasis. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355845
  7. Emollients and psoriasis. The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance. https://www.papaa.org/learn-about-psoriasis-and-psoriatic-arthritis/further-resources/emollients-and-psoriasis/
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Last Review Date: 2021 May 25
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