Urea is a naturally occurring molecule in the skin that can be used to treat psoriasis and other dermatologic conditions.

Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition that affects the skin. It causes skin cells to grow and multiply quickly. This results in thick, scaly, itchy plaques on the skin.

Sometimes, people with psoriasis also experience changes in their nails, joint pain, and eye inflammation.

There are different treatments for psoriasis. They work by reducing inflammation in the skin or slowing the production of new skin cells. This helps to reduce itching, redness, and the thickness of psoriatic plaques.

For mild to moderate psoriasis, topical treatments are usually the first approach. Urea is one ingredient used in topical products to help manage psoriasis.

Learn about how it works and why it might help with your psoriasis.

Urea is found naturally in the outermost layer of the skin. The level of urea is reduced in skin conditions like psoriasis.

Urea can reduce plaque thickness in psoriasis. It can also replace water and increase the resistance of the top layer of skin against osmotic stress or cellular damage.

You can buy urea in different creams, lotions, and other skin care products. The urea in skin care products is made in a lab.

How does it work for psoriasis?

Depending on the concentration of urea, the product will work in different ways. Even at low concentrations, products with urea can help to keep moisture in your skin. Products with a higher amount of urea can be helpful to soften and remove psoriasis scales.

One of urea’s jobs is to attract and hold water in the skin. This makes urea a good moisturizer.

Urea has a long history of being used to help heal wounds. It has antibacterial properties to help prevent and fight bacterial infections.

Urea also slows down how fast new skin cells are created. This is helpful for psoriasis, where skin cells grow quickly. It can help reduce scaly plaques.


Urea can be found in products that are available without a prescription. It can be an effective moisturizer.

It also helps to remove psoriasis scales. Using a urea-based product to remove scaly plaques can help other topical medications work better once they can better access the skin.

Side effects

Urea is generally very well tolerated. It’s considered safe for people with psoriasis. It’s also widely used for other dry skin conditions. In some cases, it may cause some discoloration or irritation, especially in children or sensitive areas of skin.

There are several treatments for psoriasis. Some are topical (applied to the skin) to moisturize, remove or soften scales, or reduce inflammation. Other psoriasis treatments are oral or injected medications. Some people also find light therapy helpful.

Urea helps to hold moisture in your skin by maintaining a healthy skin barrier. Other moisturizers work in a similar way to urea.

Other moisturizing ingredients to look for on the ingredients list include:

  • shea butter
  • glycerin
  • ceramides
  • aloe vera

Urea is also a keratolytic agent. Keratolytic treatments help to remove excess skin cells.

Other keratolytic ingredients to look for include:

  • salicylic acid
  • lactic acid

Using a “scale lifter” or “scale softener,” such as a product that contains urea, may help medications reach the psoriasis plaques. Once scales are removed, the medications or another product can better access the skin to reduce inflammation and reduce scale buildup.

Urea may be used an adjuvant therapy, or treatment that’s given in addition to the main treatment. It can help support other topical medications, which are often considered as first-line treatment for psoriasis.

If you need a more systemic treatment to reduce inflammation throughout your body, you might still continue to use topical treatments as part of managing your symptoms.

Potential interactions

Urea is generally well tolerated. It’s water soluble, so it’s easy to combine with other ingredients in skin care products. More concentrated products may cause some irritation, but this usually gets better on its own.

It may also have a skin-thinning effect. Be aware of this if you’re using a topical steroid like hydrocortisone that can also thin your skin. A skin-thinning effect is possible with any topical steroid.

Urea is an effective ingredient used in products to manage psoriasis and other skin conditions.

It works well as a moisturizer and to help remove scales. It’s well-tolerated and can help other topical medications work better.

Many people use urea-containing products long term.

Urea is a widely used ingredient to help manage psoriasis and other skin conditions. It’s generally safe to use, and you don’t need a prescription.

Urea is often used along with other products and medications. Urea can increase the effectiveness of other skin care products.

It’s always smart to check with your healthcare professional or pharmacist if you have any questions about managing your psoriasis.