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Why skin care matters

Are you one of the millions of Americans living with psoriasis? If so, you know that this skin condition requires regular attention and a skin care routine is essential.

With trial and error, you can find useful products to help manage your condition. Your symptoms will likely improve with some loving care — and good lotion. Keep reading for more information on important ingredients your lotions need and tips for healthy skin.

Psoriasis in an autoimmune condition that affects the skin’s surface. It occurs due to a rapid overproduction of skin cells that accumulate on your skin, creating thick, scaly patches. About 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis.

Psoriasis appears in a variety of forms. The most common form of psoriasis is plaque psoriasis. It’s estimated that most people — about 80 percent — have plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis manifests as raised, red patches on the skin. The affected areas may also have silvery scales, or plaques.

This type commonly appears on the elbows, knees, and scalp. It also can affect other places on the body, including the:

Other types of psoriasis include:

These types of psoriasis can be more severe and result in more aggressive flare-ups. Erythrodermic psoriasis is a rare form that requires immediate medical attention. It presents as large sheets instead of small scales and can cover large areas of the body.

People with psoriasis commonly receive a diagnosis when they’re teens or young adults, but anyone can develop the condition. Psoriasis isn’t curable, but there are many ways to manage it.

You may discover you have psoriasis after visiting your doctor for a rash or lesion that won’t go away. Symptoms of psoriasis vary, but you may experience:

  • inflamed patches of skin with silver scales
  • small spots
  • dry, cracked skin
  • itching
  • burning
  • soreness

Psoriasis symptoms may come and go. The condition tends to flare up at times, and may be triggered by certain things. You can also go through periods of remission, where you experience few or no symptoms.

There are many known triggers of psoriasis, including:

Psoriasis is a chronic condition, so learning to manage triggers and outbreaks is essential to your health. There are mild, moderate, and severe cases of psoriasis. The severity depends on how much of the body is affected:

Severity levelPercent of body covered
mildunder 3%
moderate3 to 10%
severemore than 10%

How you manage your psoriasis will depend on its severity.

You should see your doctor to determine if you have psoriasis. Together, you can discuss an effective treatment plan. You can manage psoriasis with one or more of the following:

  • over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription emollients, such as lotions, creams, or other topical products
  • phototherapy
  • medications

Topical treatments are the first-line management for mild cases of psoriasis. These can be used in combination with other psoriasis treatments for moderate and severe cases. You can find a good selection of OTC topical treatments here.

Daily care is essential in managing psoriasis. Although prescription topical treatments may be the best method for alleviating severe psoriasis symptoms, OTC emollients can also bring relief to those with milder psoriasis. They may also be used in combination with other treatments.

Emollients create a barrier on the skin’s surface. The barrier protects the surface with oils and allows the skin to rehydrate. This helps to reduce skin dryness and irritation.

Lotions, creams, and ointments can help reduce scaling, as well as soften and smooth skin. You can apply a variety of emollients on a daily basis. However, not all lotions are good for psoriasis, and some may exacerbate your symptoms.

Important ingredients

Certain ingredients found in emollients are known to help with psoriasis symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the ingredients salicylic acid and coal tar for treating psoriasis.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a keratolytic, or a peeling agent. It helps the outer layer of the skin to shed. It can lift psoriasis scales and soften the skin.

Tip: Be careful when using products with salicylic acid. Overuse can result in skin irritation and weakened hair shafts.

Coal tar

Coal tar can slow rapid skin cell growth, improve the skin’s appearance, and reduce itching. People commonly use it on the scalp. Products containing coal tar vary from one brand to another, so test it on a small area of the skin when trying it for the first time.

Tip: Coal tar can cause irritation, as well as stain clothing and light-colored hair. It can also cause your skin to be more sensitive to the sun.

Other ingredients that may help

Other ingredients that can help psoriasis symptoms include:

Be sure to limit your exposure to topical products that contain steroids. You shouldn’t use steroids throughout the day. Talk to your doctor about the long-term use of products that contain steroids and other active ingredients. Emollients are free of steroids, and you can use them liberally and frequently.

Specific products to explore

Psoriasis responds differently to certain emollients depending on the person. It’s important that you try different products and determine a skin care routine that works best for you. Although high-end emollients are available, cheaper solutions such as certain cooking oils and shortening can help dry and irritated skin.

The National Psoriasis Foundation recognizes several OTC emollient products to treat psoriasis symptoms. These include:

Other lotions that can help psoriasis are found at most pharmacies and grocery stores. The foundation also recommends products by:

  • Eucerin
  • Lubriderm
  • Cetaphil
  • CeraVe
  • Aveeno

Be sure to select hypoallergenic and alcohol-, fragrance-, and dye-free products to lessen the chance of skin irritation.

It’s essential to create a daily skin care routine if you have psoriasis. You should take extra care to make sure your skin stays moisturized. This can help lessen the effects of your condition.

Talk with your doctor about what products will work best with your symptoms and how you can make lifestyle choices that prevent exposure to your psoriasis triggers.