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Smart Skin Care for People With Psoriasis


Gina Garippo

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If you have psoriasis, you know it can be difficult to deal with super-sensitive skin. You might think twice before applying a new lotion in fear that it could cause a flare-up. Perhaps you avoid wearing a bathing suit because shaving just seems out of the question.

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to improve your skin and reduce irritation. Below are some basic skin care tips for people with psoriasis. And they won’t prevent you from hitting the beach.

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize

If there’s one rule you should follow in skin care, it’s to moisturize. That means every day without fail. The best time to moisturize your skin—both affected and nonaffected areas—is after you’ve taken a lukewarm bath or shower. But you can reapply anytime during the day. Be sure to pack a moisturizer into your gym bag to apply after your workout.

Dealing with a psoriasis diagnosis can be overwhelming, but these patients share tips on how to stay in control--and even thrive--with psoriasis.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 18, 2017

2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

Using a daily, over-the-counter moisturizer can help keep your skin soft and prevent it from cracking. It can also reduce scaling and lessen the tight, sore feeling that occurs with psoriasis. Moisturizers create a film on the outside of the skin, trapping moisture in. While moisturizers aren’t intended to replace topical treatments, they can actually help medications work better, and should be used along with them.

The most common forms of moisturizers are ointments, creams, and lotions. Ointments are thick and work well on scaly skin. But they can also be greasy because they contain a lot of oil. Creams and lotions, such as Cetaphil, are lighter than ointments but also soothe dry skin. Whatever moisturizer you choose, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Cooking oils and even shortening will work. Just try to choose one that is fragrance-free and make sure it is one you enjoy. You’ll be using it every day!

Relax Away Skin Troubles

Taking 15 minutes to soak in a lukewarm bath each day can do more than soothe your state of mind. It can also soothe your itchy skin and reduce redness. To help ease psoriasis symptoms, add oil, Epsom salt, Dead Sea salts, or oatmeal to the water. Just make sure you keep the water temperature lukewarm. Try to avoid using water that is too warm, as heat can increase itching and irritation. After your bath, gently pat your skin and apply moisturizer while surfaces remain moist.

Give Your Moisturizer Double Duty

Deodorant soaps and products containing perfume or detergents can irritate the skin and increase dryness. This is especially true of products that contain alcohol, which should be avoided. Instead, you can use your favorite moisturizer to clean your skin. Simply apply the product in the shower and gently rinse off. You can also buy over-the-counter medicated bath oils and shower gels. Some good choices include Oilatum, Balneum bath oil, or Elave shower gel.

See the Sun (in Moderation)

A little ultraviolet (UV) light can help improve psoriasis lesions. Sitting in the sun for a short while is all you need. Just be careful—too much sun can damage the skin cells and make psoriasis outbreaks worse. Cover the parts of your skin with sunscreen that aren’t affected by psoriasis. Check with your doctor before starting UV therapy.

Go Bare

Want to bare a little skin without the stubble? You don’t have to live with unwanted hair just because you have psoriasis. It’s fine to shave your skin; just be careful to avoid any lesions. Waxing can be more troublesome for some people because pulling out hairs can irritate the skin. This is especially true in the groin and underarm areas, which can be more sensitive to irritation and infection. For these delicate areas, you may consider a laser treatment to rid yourself of unwanted hair.

Be Patient

If your doctor prescribes a topical treatment for your skin and you don’t see any improvement, don’t give up too soon. Psoriasis lesions can take a few weeks to disappear. If you don’t see results immediately, that doesn’t mean it isn’t working. Give your skin a little time to heal and continue your bathing and moisturizing routine at home. Before you know it, you’ll have smoother, more comfortable skin.

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Was this helpful? (22)
Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Mar 2, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Panzer R. Providing Patients with Information on Caring for the Skin. Nursing Standard. 2008,(23)9:49-55.
  2. Dyble T and Ashton J. Use of Emollients in the Treatment of Dry Skin Conditions. British Journal of Community Nursing. 2011(16)5:214-20.
  3. Ryan S. Continuing Education. Patient Education in Psoriasis. World of Irish Nursing & Midwifery. 2009(9):45-46. 
  4. Psoriasis. American Academy of Family Physicians.
  5. Frequently Asked Questions: Psoriasis in spring, summer, fall and winter. National Psoriasis Foundation.

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