Many who live with psoriasis like to seek out natural ingredients for their dietary and skin care routines. Here’s a practical guide on how to choose the best ingredients that help soothe your skin and what to avoid.

You’ve likely used different treatments to manage your psoriasis symptoms. Topical, oral, injected, or infused medications can be used to treat psoriasis, and some people also use light therapy.

Along with medications, there are other things you can use to help manage your psoriasis. Certain natural ingredients in food, cosmetics, and skin care products can help to soothe your skin. But there are also ingredients to watch out for.

Here’s a guide to what ingredients to avoid and include as part of your psoriasis management plan.


Products with added fragrances can be drying and irritating for people with psoriasis.

Research has suggested that people who use more scented products are actually more likely to develop sensitive skin. When your skin is already prone to inflammation, it’s best to avoid anything that can make it worse. Even essential oils can be a problem for some people.

Look for products labeled “fragrance-free” or “unscented.”


Alcohol is an ingredient in many skin care products. Alcohol can make a product feel lighter or cooler on the skin and help it absorb faster.

Ethanol and isopropyl alcohol are two ingredients that can be hard on your skin. These types of alcohol dry out your skin by disrupting the skin’s natural moisture barrier, making it more prone to dryness and irritation. A product labeled “alcohol-free” won’t contain these types of alcohol.

To make this more confusing, you don’t need to avoid all products that have alcohol listed on the label. Some types of alcohol can be beneficial, like those that come from plants and are sources of healthy fatty acids. They include cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol. These types of alcohol are great moisturizers and help the skin feel softer.


Sulfate is a common ingredient in shampoo. It helps to make it foamy when you’re washing your hair.

If you have psoriasis on your scalp, sulfates can be irritating. They’re a type of cleanser that can pull moisture from your skin.

Avoid products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate in the ingredients list.


There’s some debate about whether to exfoliate when you have psoriasis. You can exfoliate your skin through ingredients such as salicylic acid or physical exfoliants. Chemicals such as salicylic acid are helpful to remove scales, allowing moisturizers to work better.

Physical exfoliants can cause damage and irritation to the skin, and they should generally be avoided. Damage to the skin can actually trigger more psoriasis in that area. It’s a good idea to avoid any kind of scrub, even if it’s made with natural exfoliants such as apricots.

Avoid using a loofah, which may be too rough for your skin. Instead, use your hands or a very soft cloth to wash your body.


Calamine contains iron and zinc ores, giving calamine lotion that lovely shade of pink. Calamine is an effective way to reduce the itch of psoriasis lesions. You can use it right on areas of psoriasis to get some relief. Calamine doesn’t treat psoriasis, but it can help to manage the itch.

Calamine lotion is also used to soothe skin irritations such as sunburn, acne, or poison ivy.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is used as a scale lifter. It can be helpful to soften and remove the buildup of psoriasis scales. It can also help to reduce itching, redness, and inflammation.

Many people use salicylic acid to remove scales, allowing moisturizers to soak into the skin more easily.

Some people are sensitive to salicylic acid, so consider using it on a small area first to see how your skin reacts.

Shea butter

Shea butter is rich in many healthy fatty acids, making it a great moisturizer. Shea butter is made from the nuts of the shea tree, which grows in sub-Saharan Africa.

It’s shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help to heal areas of psoriasis. You can buy pure shea butter to use on areas of psoriasis.

Recent research has also shown a benefit of a product that combines shea butter with salicylic acid.

Coal tar

Coal tar has been used for more than 100 years to treat psoriasis. It’s a thick, dark liquid used in many topical treatments for psoriasis.

You can buy shampoos, lotions, bath foams, and other products that contain coal tar. These products are often marketed to treat psoriasis.


Ceramides are a type of fatty acid found naturally in your skin and actually make up 40%–50% of the fatty acids found in the top layer of your skin.

Ceramides help to keep moisture in your skin, helping your skin to maintain a protective barrier. With age or inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, levels of ceramides can drop. Products with added ceramides help to restore the amount present in the outer layer of your skin.

In the ingredient list, look for the word ceramide. You can also look for the ingredients phytosphingosine and sphingosine. These are specific types of ceramides.

Vitamin D

Products containing vitamin D are an effective topical treatment for plaque psoriasis. These products help to slow down the production of psoriasis scales, reducing the itchiness of these patches.

Recent research has explored whether oral vitamin D supplements may be helpful. It has been suggested that vitamin D may lower the levels of inflammation in the body, and this may lessen the attack on skin cells. So far, we don’t have enough evidence to widely recommend a certain dose of vitamin D for people with psoriasis.

It’s still a good idea to make sure you’re getting enough. There aren’t a lot of dietary sources for it, so most people need a supplement to meet their needs. Adults up to age 70 need 15 micrograms (mcg), or 600 IU, daily. Adults ages 70 and older need 20 mcg (800 IU) daily.

Curcumin (turmeric)

Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric. Turmeric is used as a spice in a variety of foods and is known for its golden color.

Curcumin has some anti-inflammatory properties, and there’s interest in whether this may be beneficial as a supplement. Studies suggest that curcumin supplements may be helpful for people with psoriasis.

You can also feel free to use lots of turmeric in your meals. Keep in mind that the amount in supplements is much higher than what would be used in cooking.

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that can be difficult to treat. Along with medications and light therapy, some natural ingredients can be helpful in managing the condition.

These ingredients help to keep moisture in your skin, helping to prevent dryness and irritation.

There are other ingredients that are hard on your skin. Anything that pulls moisture from your skin should be avoided. It can create more inflammation.

If you’re not sure about ingredients, talk with your healthcare professional who may be able to guide you.