When creating your psoriasis skin care routine, use gentle products that add moisture and prevent dryness or irritation. It’s also important to avoid ingredients that you know can trigger your symptoms, like alcohols or fragrances.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes skin inflammation. It presents as itchy, discolored, and potentially painful patches of skin.

Combined with a dermatologist’s prescribed medications, a psoriasis-safe skin care routine is essential to protect skin health. A skin care routine can help you manage the symptoms of psoriasis and avoid potential triggers that may lead to flares.

Read on to learn more about what to consider as you create a skincare routine for psoriasis.

A moisturizer is an essential part of any skin care routine, and it’s vital for people living with psoriasis.

Inflammation can damage the skin barrier, allowing moisture to escape and cause dryness and scaliness. A moisturizer helps keep moisture in to relieve dryness and promote healing.

When choosing a moisturizer, consider heavy creams, ointments, or oils rather than lotions. Be sure to select fragrance-free products because fragrances can irritate sensitive skin.

Research from 2020 suggests that a moisturizer containing linoleic acid or ceramide may provide extra relief.

You can use a moisturizer during the day when your skin feels itchy. Applying a moisturizer before bed can also help your skin heal overnight.

For some people, showers or baths worsen psoriasis symptoms. You can take steps to avoid this and protect your skin in the process.

Choose a gentle cleanser or a moisture-rich soap made for sensitive skin. Avoid deodorant soaps and antibacterial soaps, which can be harsh and cause irritation. Use your hands to wash your skin rather than a loofah or wash cloth, which can also irritate the skin.

Keep showers and baths short and use warm, but not hot, water. Wait 5 minutes after showering or 15 minutes a bath, and then blot your skin with a towel to remove some, but not all, of the water. Next, apply a layer of moisturizer to help keep in moisture.

Medicated shampoos

Some people may be prescribed a medicated shampoo to ease psoriasis that affects the scalp. However, know that some medicated shampoos may damage various hair types.

Also, other factors, such as texture and how you style your hair, may affect how frequently you wash your hair.

Many of these concerns have impacted People of Color with psoriasis, who have historically been underrepresented in dermatology research.

When discussing topical treatment options with a dermatologist, be sure to find out how best to fit these types of medications into your regular skin care (and hair care) routine.

Small cuts or nicks during shaving can irritate the skin and lead to a worsening of symptoms. Before you shave, consider applying a moisturizer and shaving gel to help avoid injuries caused by razors.

If you use makeup, be sure to prepare your skin with moisturizer before applying any products. Experts recommend using fewer products and steps to avoid irritation and keeping your brushes clean to avoid infection.

For foundations, experts recommend using a product with buildable (rather than matte) coverage. Use a gentle tool to apply product, such as your finger, a small brush, or a makeup sponge.

Use a gentle cleanser to remove makeup. A product containing salicylic acid may provide additional relief for psoriatic skin by helping soften scales.

Sunscreen is another vital component of any psoriasis skin care routine. Sunburns can damage the skin and potentially cause flares.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen to all areas of exposed skin, including areas with psoriasis. Be sure to reapply regularly if you will be out throughout the day.

Also, consider an insect repellent if you’ll be in an area with bugs. Bug bites can also cause injury and itchiness that can lead to skin damage and potential psoriasis flares.

Many people with psoriasis experience itchiness. An anti-itch product can help in some cases, but others can irritate the skin and worsen dryness.

Try out different formulas of anti-itch products to find one that works best for you. Consider products with one or more of the following ingredients:

  • calamine
  • camphor
  • menthol

Combining an anti-itch product with your regular moisturizer may help provide the most relief.

Be sure to check labels to avoid ingredients that you know irritate your skin.

If you’re considering a new product, try using a small amount on a clear patch of skin first to see how your skin reacts.

Though everyone’s skin reacts differently, it may be helpful to avoid ingredients that cause dryness or irritate sensitive skin, such as:

  • alcohols, such as ethanol or propylene glycol
  • fragrances or dyes
  • essential oils

On the other hand, some ingredients may provide extra relief.

Urea in concentrations of 10% or less may help with scale softening. Also, coal tar — commonly found in shampoos, creams, and ointments — can reduce itching and flaking.

Also, 2021 research has found that shampoos and moisturizers that contain honey may help reduce psoriasis symptoms and flares.

Though prescription and topical medications are the foundation of psoriasis care, many people experience additional relief from symptoms with a psoriasis-friendly skin care routine.

When creating your psoriasis skin care routine, use gentle products that add moisture and prevent dryness or irritation. Avoid ingredients that you know can trigger your symptoms.

Ask a dermatologist if you have questions about the safety of products for your skin.