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- Best salicylic acid cream: MG217 Medicated Multi-Symptom Moisturizing Cream
- Best ceramide treatment: Curél Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer
- Best for calming skin: CeraVe Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream
- Best coal tar ointment: Psoriasin Deep Moisturizing Ointment
- Best topical prescription medication: Wynzora
- Best for alleviating dryness: Bioderma Atoderm Cream
- Best vitamin-enriched coal tar ointment: MG217 Psoriasis Coal Tar Medicated Ointment
- Best for psoriasis around the eyes: Cetaphil Hydrating Eye Gel-Cream
- Best for itch relief: Gold Bond Ultimate Multi-Symptom Psoriasis Relief Cream
- Best for eliminating white scales: TriDermaMD Psoriasis Control
- Best plant-based formula: Bodewell Psoriasis Calming Cream
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.
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.
A note about price
Except for the prescription medication cream, which varies in price based on your insurance, we’ve indicated price as follows:
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$25
- $$$ = over $25
Packaging sizes vary, so consider the number of ounces each product contains when you’re shopping.
Best salicylic acid cream
- Price: $
- Best for: red, itchy, scaling skin
- Key ingredients: salicylic acid, aloe, bisabolol, and shea butter
- Pros: budget-friendly, soothing, moisturizing, loosens existing scales
- Cons: contains parabens
This cream contains 3% 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. This cream is also fragrance-free.
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 area around your eyes.
This product has received the Seal of Recognition from the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Best ceramide treatment
- Price: $$
- Best for: dry and very dry skin
- Key ingredients: ceramides, glycerin
- Pros: fast-absorbing, nongreasy, highly rated
- Cons: contains citrus oil (can cause allergic reactions for some)
Ceramides are beneficial, long-chain fatty acids that occur naturally in the skin’s outer layer (epidermis). They maintain moisture and support the skin’s barrier function. According to a
This product contains a proprietary ceramide complex that supports the skin’s natural barrier and reduces dryness. It’s free of added fragrances, and it’s meant to be used on moist skin immediately after bathing.
Best for calming skin
- Price: $$
- Best for: scaling, red, dry, flaky skin
- Key ingredients: salicylic acid, urea, niacinamide, ceramides
- Pros: offers gentle exfoliation, noncomedogenic (won’t clog pores), hydrating and softening
- Cons: some complaints about shipment packaging
This moisturizing cream contains ceramides and niacinamide (vitamin B3) to improve epidermal barrier function.
It also contains 2% salicylic acid, urea, and is fragrance-free 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
- Price: $$
- Best for: itching, scaling, red skin
- Key ingredients: coal tar
- Pros: soothing, moisturizing, fast results
- Cons: not ideal for very sensitive skin or people under 18 years (according to manufacturer), may affect very light hair color, possible gasoline smell
The product reduces itching, redness, flaking, and other psoriasis symptoms. It’s eligible for health savings account (HSA) and flexible spending account (FSA) funds.
The ointment gets very positive online reviews for effectiveness, but users often mention a gasoline smell.
Coal tar can be irritating to sensitive skin. Do a patch test before you use it on a large area.
Best topical prescription medication
- Price: varies based on health insurance
- Best for: plaque psoriasis, itchy, swollen, irritated skin
- Key ingredients: corticosteroid, vitamin D
- Pros: an option for severe cases, highly potent, intended for use on scalp and body
- Cons: not for children, pregnant people, breastfeeding people; must avoid use around the face, groin, or armpits; must be avoided for those who have atrophy at the application site
This topical medication is available by prescription only. It contains a prescription-strength corticosteroid to relieve itching, swelling, and irritation. It also contains vitamin D, which slows down the growth of skin cells before plaques can form.
It’s not meant to be used on the face. It’s also not meant for use in children, or in pregnant or breastfeeding people.
If you have severe psoriasis, talk with a doctor about this and other medications that may benefit you.
Best for alleviating dryness
- Price: $$
- Best for: normal, dry, sensitive skin
- Key ingredients: glycerin, mineral oil
- Pros: noncomedogenic (won’t clog pores), softening, safe for sensitive skin, and use for children
- Cons: Some reviewers say it can leave a residue.
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 also free of fragrances and parabens, and is recommended for adults and children.
Best vitamin-enriched coal tar ointment
- Price: $$
- Best for: plaque psoriasis, dry, itchy, flaky, red skin
- Key ingredients: coal tar, vitamins D3, A, and E
- Pros: moisturizing, recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation, nonstaining
- Cons: contains sulfates, parabens, and fragrance
This ointment contains 2% coal tar and vitamins D3, A, and E. It slows down skin cell growth and deeply moisturizes and relieves irritated skin.
Even though it lists fragrance as one of the ingredients, it’s recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation as an effective treatment.
Users say it provides fast relief for the itching, redness, and flaking caused by plaque psoriasis on the face and body, as well as on the scalp.
Like with most coal tar products, users also mention a rubber smell.
Best for psoriasis around the eyes
- Price: $$
- Best for: red, itchy, flaky skin around the eyes
- Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid, licorice root
- Pros: safe for sensitive skin, safe for delicate eye area, absorbs quickly
- Cons: too much hyaluronic acid can cause damage, contains fragrance
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 the skin.
However, users of this product who have psoriasis say it significantly reduced redness, itching, and flaking on the eyelids and under-eye area.
This eye cream is free of dyes, parabens, and aluminum. It also contains licorice root, which
Best for itch relief
- Price: $
- Best for: psoriasis, red, itchy, irritated, flaky, scaly skin
- Key ingredients: salicylic acid, ceramides, gluconolactone
- Pros: budget-friendly, recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation, highly rated
- Cons: The dense formula may be tough to dispense from the bottle.
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 also fragrance-free and free of steroids.
It’s approved for use in children and adults.
Best for eliminating white scales
- Price: $$
- Best for: white scaly skin, redness, itchy skin
- Key ingredients: salicylic acid, aloe vera, shea butter, vitamins
- Pros: nongreasy, fast-absorbing, can be used in multiple areas
- Cons: Some reviewers say it’s not the best for severe cases.
This face and body cream contains salicylic acid, aloe vera, shea butter, and vitamins. It’s also free of fragrances, steroids, and parabens. It can be used anywhere on the body, face, or scalp.
It’s beneficial for eliminating dead skin cells and silvery-white scales from skin. It also reduces itching. In addition, it’s nongreasy and absorbs quickly.
Best plant-based formula
- Price: $$$
- Best for: psoriasis, sensitive skin, eczema
- Key ingredients: salicylic acid, plant extracts, vitamins E and B3, safflower seed oil, coconut oil
- Pros: moisturizing, recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation, flake control
- Cons: pricey, contains some alcohol
This botanically based face and body cream contains 24 plant extracts plus vitamins E and B3. It’s also free of steroids, fragrances, parabens, gluten, and lactose. 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.
When buying psoriasis creams, read labels carefully for any potentially irritating ingredients, such as sulfates, parabens, fragrance, or alcohol. Some products include these but in small doses that may be well tolerated by your skin. This would depend on the severity of your symptoms.
It’s also a good idea to scan the ingredient list for any known allergens. You can perform a patch test to look for any possible irritation or allergic reactions to a psoriasis cream.
It’s important to note that some products are meant for use only on certain areas of the body. So, when you can, look for psoriasis creams based on application site. Some products are also formulated just for facial use or use on the body.
Most psoriasis creams aren’t gentle enough to use around the eye area, for instance. So, if you need to treat symptoms around the eye, you’ll need a formula designed specifically for this delicate area.
If you aren’t finding relief using OTC products for psoriasis, it may be a good idea to see your doctor about other treatment options.
Your doctor may suggest a high potency prescription — topical, oral, or injected medication — that may help reduce symptoms.
It’s also a good idea to visit your doctor if your symptoms are severe, painful, worsening, or interfering with your daily life. Your doctor can also help you identify your triggers and recommend some lifestyle or nutrition adjustments if needed.
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.
What is the fastest way to treat psoriasis?
It may take some trial and error with psoriasis treatments, like creams, before you find a perfect match for you. This can take some time, especially since some products may need a certain number of days or weeks before you see results.
If you’re hoping for the strongest results, you may want to visit your doctor. They may suggest a prescription option, which tends to be the most potent. Identifying any triggers may also help you see fewer flare-ups.
There’s a good variety of psoriasis creams available that can help relieve symptoms and possibly prevent future flare-ups. Aside from considering your budget, also look for helpful active ingredients, such as topical corticosteroids, keratolytics, and emollients.
It’s a good idea to skip psoriasis creams that may contain drying agents, such as isopropyl alcohol, denatured alcohol, or irritants like sulfates.
You can also talk with your doctor to discuss stronger psoriasis treatment options, learn about avoiding triggers, and hear other helpful recommendations for managing your psoriasis symptoms.
Remember to patch test before you apply your psoriasis cream on a large area of your skin to avoid irritation or an allergic reaction.