What to Do for Psoriasis Scars

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man with cracked skin and scar on hand

If you have psoriasis, you’re probably already familiar with how emotionally upsetting the condition can be. You may feel embarrassed by your condition and thrilled when your skin responds to a certain treatment. But even if psoriasis treatments prove effective, you may still have psoriasis scars that don’t fade over time.

But there is good news. Psoriasis scars are manageable, and there are a variety of treatment options to help reduce the appearance of scars on your skin. Your doctor can help you decide which treatments may work best for you. 

Psoriasis and Scarring

Psoriasis is a chronic, or long-term disease in which extra skin cells build up quickly on the skin, causing scaly, red patches to form. Psoriasis can affect any area of the body, but it most commonly affects skin on the scalp, lower back, knees, and elbows. Most people living with psoriasis experience flares where their disease gets worse, followed by periods of remission.

Psoriasis by itself does not cause scar tissue to form. However, the symptoms of psoriasis—including skin that’s dry, cracked, or intensely itchy—may lead to scar formation as a result of frequent scratching or rubbing. Scars form depending on several factors, including the size of wounds, location of the wounds, your general health, and how likely you are to scar. While there are four main types of scars, only two kinds are more likely if you have psoriasis:

  • Hypertrophic scars, which are red, raised, and usually form directly over a wound.

  • Keloid scars, which stick out from the surface of the skin beyond the original wound site.

Scars are natural part of the healing process, but they can cause embarrassment or discomfort, especially if you’ve had psoriasis on your hands or face. Your scars may be tender, painful, or itchy, and they may cause you to become anxious or depressed about their appearance. If your psoriasis scars impact your quality of life, it’s time to talk with your doctor about possible treatment options.

Psoriasis Scar Treatments

For many people, scars fade over time but never truly go away. Fortunately, a variety of treatment options exist to help reduce the appearance of scars, including those caused by scratching your psoriasis patches. For some people, scar reduction is as simple as using an over-the-counter or prescription gel, cream, or ointment. Your doctor may suggest these types of products if your scarring is less severe. Topical medications that you apply to your skin may also include corticosteroids or other antihistamines to help reduce itching and prevent inflammation.

Certain injectable medications, such as steroids, may be used to help reduce the size of larger keloid scars. Your doctor may decide to use this treatment alone or in combination with other therapies.

If your scars are more severe, your doctor may recommend certain procedures to help improve their appearance. Your doctor may suggest one of several surgical treatments, including:

  • Dermabrasion—The upper layers of your skin are removed with a special tool and new skin grows to cover the area. Following dermabrasion, your skin may look and feel smoother and more refreshed.

  • Laser surgery—If your scar is pink or purple in color, or if it is raised, your doctor may use a special type of laser to lighten your scar’s color or help flatten it.

  • Other surgical options—If necessary, your doctor may elect to perform surgery to remove scar tissue. Following the procedure, your doctor will close your new wound very carefully to help ensure only minimal new scar tissue forms. Scar revision, or surgery to reduce scars, is used to help restore function and correct any disfigurements caused by the formation of scar tissue.

Psoriasis scars can be frustrating to live with, but a variety of treatment options offer many ways to reduce the appearance of your scars. If you have psoriasis scars that impact your quality of life, it’s important to speak with your doctor about which treatment options may be right for you. Your treatment will depend of the size, location, and severity of your scars.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2018 May 18
  1. Psoriasis. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840
  2. Psoriasis. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/scaly-skin/psoriasis#overview
  3. Scars. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/scars
  4. Scars. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/scars.html
  5. Scars. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. https://www.asds.net/Skin-Experts/Skin-Conditions/Scars
  6. Scar Revision. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002991.htm

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