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Mild to moderate psoriasis is often successfully treated with over-the-counter (OTC) emollient creams and lotions. For the topical creams on this list, we focused on ingredients such as corticosteroids, coal tar, and salicylic acid. Studies have found these active ingredients to reduce psoriasis symptoms for some people.

The dermatologic guidelines for treating psoriasis typically include the use of topical corticosteroids, keratolytics, and emollients. We analyzed studies on ingredients and read scores of user reviews to find the best products for treating psoriasis symptoms.

The products on this list contain the best moisturizers for dry skin and descaling ingredients, such as salicylic acid. We included both prescription topicals and OTC creams and lotions.

If you have psoriasis, knowing the ingredients to avoid is just as important as knowing those to use. We didn’t include products that contain irritating or drying ingredients, such as isopropyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, or sulfates.

Best salicylic acid cream

MG217 Medicated Multi-Symptom Moisturizing Cream

Price: $

This cream contains 3 percent salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a keratolytic agent, which means it softens and removes psoriasis scales.

It also contains emollient ingredients such as shea butter and avocado oil. These ingredients keep skin hydrated, reducing itching and redness.

The manufacturer states that this product is for use on the body only. However, users say it’s beneficial for the face and scalp. If you decide to use it in these areas, make sure to avoid your eyes and eye area.

This product has received the Seal of Recognition from the National Psoriasis Foundation.

Best ceramide treatment

Curél Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer

Price: $$

Ceramides are beneficial, long-chain fatty acids that occur naturally in the skin’s outer layer (epidermis). They maintain moisture and support the skin’s barrier function. According to a 2006 study, people with psoriasis have significantly decreased ceramide levels in their skin.

This product contains a proprietary ceramide complex that supports the skin’s natural barrier and reduces dryness. It’s meant to be used immediately after bathing on moist skin.

Best for calming skin

CeraVe Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream

Price: $$

This moisturizing cream contains ceramides and niacinamide (vitamin B3) to improve epidermal barrier function.

It also contains 2 percent salicylic acid and urea to reduce itching, redness, and scaling, and to make skin less irritated and more comfortable.

This product has been given the Seal of Recognition from the National Psoriasis Foundation.

Best coal tar ointment

Psoriasin Deep Moisturizing Ointment

Price: $$

This ointment contains 2 percent coal tar. A 2017 study found that coal tar can reduce or diminish plaques caused by plaque psoriasis, palmoplantar psoriasis, and scalp psoriasis.

The product reduces itching, redness, flaking, and other psoriasis symptoms. It’s eligible for health savings account (HSA) and flexible spending account (FSA) funds.

The ointment gets very positive online reviews for effectiveness, but users often mention a gasoline smell.

Coal tar can be irritating to sensitive skin. Do a patch test before you use it on a large area.

Best topical prescription medication

Wynzora

  • Price: varies based on health insurance

This topical medication is available by prescription only. It contains a prescription-strength corticosteroid to relieve itching, swelling, and irritation. It also contains vitamin D, which slows down the growth of skin cells before plaques can form.

It’s not meant to be used on the face. It’s also not meant for use in children or in pregnant or breastfeeding people.

If you have severe psoriasis, talk with a doctor about this and other medications that may benefit you.

Best for alleviating dryness

Bioderma Atoderm Cream

Price: $$

The active ingredient in this cream is glycerin. Glycerin has benefits for hydrating skin and improving barrier function. It also helps reduce inflammation and slows down cell growth.

This cream is made to deeply moisturize dry, very dry, and atopic skin. It’s recommended for children and adults.

Best vitamin-enriched coal tar ointment

MG217 Psoriasis Coal Tar Medicated Ointment

Price: $$

This ointment contains 2 percent coal tar and vitamins D3, A, and E. It slows down skin cell growth and deeply moisturizes and relieves irritated skin.

Even though it lists fragrance as one of the ingredients, it’s recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation as an effective treatment.

Users say it provides fast relief for the itching, redness, and flaking caused by plaque psoriasis on the face and body, as well as on the scalp.

Like most coal tar products, users also mention a rubber smell.

Best for psoriasis around the eyes

Cetaphil Hydrating Eye Gel Cream

Price: $$

If you have psoriasis around the eyes, you might do better with a product specifically designed for the delicate skin in that area. Many standard psoriasis products will be too harsh and may sting.

This eye gel cream contains hyaluronic acid, which is highly moisturizing, and beneficial for reducing redness. Hyaluronic acid is a controversial treatment for psoriasis, as too much can be damaging to skin.

However, users of this product who have psoriasis say it significantly reduced redness, itching, and flaking on the eyelids and under-eye area.

It also contains licorice root, which animal studies have found to reduce psoriasis-like redness in mice.

Best itch relief

Gold Bond Ultimate Multi-Symptom Psoriasis Relief Cream

Price: $

This body lotion contains salicylic acid, ceramides, and gluconolactone for exfoliating dead skin cells. It also contains vitamin D, shea butter, and aloe.

Users say it promptly relieves itching, soothes irritated skin, and eliminates redness.

It’s approved for use in children and adults.

Best for eliminating white scales

TriDermaMD Psoriasis Control Cream

Price: $$

This face and body cream contains salicylic acid, aloe vera, shea butter, and vitamins. It can be used anywhere on the body, face, or scalp.

It’s beneficial for eliminating dead skin cells and silvery-white scales from skin. It also reduces itching. In addition, it’s nongreasy and absorbs quickly.

Best plant-based formula

Bodewell Super Cream

Price: $$$

This botanically based face and body cream contains 24 plant extracts plus vitamins E and B3. It’s appropriate for people with psoriasis, eczema, or sensitive skin.

Users with psoriasis say it’s beneficial for reducing itching and pain on the back, shoulders, and legs.

Can psoriasis be managed by only using topical treatments?

You may find that what works for you today stops working for you a year from now. Topicals such as creams and ointments can be very effective for reducing or even eliminating symptoms. However, they’re not a cure.

Avoiding triggers can help make topical treatments more effective. In some instances, they may also be more beneficial when combined with prescribed medications and changes to your nutrition.

Do I need to use a special sunscreen if I have psoriasis?

You don’t necessarily need to use special sunscreen but wearing sun protection is important. Long sleeves and clothing with a UPF protection rating can come in handy.

If you have a flare-up or actively inflamed skin, sunscreen may irritate your skin further. In these instances, it may be best to avoid sun exposure or to wear clothing that protects your skin from the sun’s rays.

When flare-ups are managed, a sun blocker that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide may be your safest bet. Always use a sunscreen that has at least SPF 30.

If you take a medication for psoriasis, such as methotrexate or acitretin, you may have heightened sensitivity to the sun, increasing your need for protection.