Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects your skin cells. Experts think it may cause your immune system to work against your body, though they aren’t sure what causes it.

There are different types of psoriasis, and each affects your skin differently. Most types cause:

  • dry, scaly red patches
  • cracked skin
  • itching
  • burning

Psoriasis symptoms can come in cycles and may result from triggers. Triggers are environmental or other factors that affect the severity of your psoriasis or cause of a flare-up.

You can have a variety of triggers, though the most common are:

  • stress
  • infections
  • extreme weather changes (like cold) that cause dry skin
  • cigarette smoking
  • higher-than-normal alcohol consumption
  • skin injuries, like bad sunburns, cuts, and bug bites
  • certain medications, including certain blood pressure drugs

Other common injuries, such as friction and pressure, can lead to development of psoriatic plaques in an area. Trauma-induced development of psoriatic plaques is known as the Koebner or isomorphic phenomenon.

When it comes to treatment of psoriasis, managing symptoms is key. Glycerin is one option that shows potential for helping treat painful symptoms.

Read on to find out how it works and whether it’s right for you.

Glycerin, or glycerol, is a substance used in skin creams, lotions, and soaps. It can be made from alcohol or vegetable oil. It’s thought that glycerin helps trap moisture in the skin because it attracts water.

Research, such as a small 2008 study and a 2008 review, has shown benefits to skin barrier with treatments that include glycerin. However, given that studies are limited, more research is needed in this area to confirm these benefits.

Dr. Tanya Kormeili, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical professor at UCLA, explained that glycerin can be helpful for skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

“It can also help wound healing and dry, cracked skin as a result of contact dermatitis and/or injury,” she said.

You can apply glycerin to your skin in several forms, including:

  • creams
  • soaps
  • lotions

Cetaphil is a popular brand of products that contain glycerin.

“Glycerin, or glycerol, helps cells mature in a normal fashion, as opposed to psoriasis, where there is a signal to the skin to proliferate excessively and cause thick plaques,” said Kormeili.

“In psoriasis, there is a strong inflammatory signal that triggers the cells to hyperproliferate and create big red plaques. Any product that can hydrate and reduce skin inflammation and turnover can help this condition,” she added.

A 2013 study suggests glycerin is helpful in treating skin by restoring moisture. However, there isn’t much clinical evidence specifically for psoriasis.

While glycerin is likely safe, it’s always best to talk with your dermatologist or doctor before trying any treatment options.