Many common skin care products can help you manage psoriasis, but others can cause irritation and flare-ups of symptoms. This includes products containing alcohol, sulfates, and essential oils.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that shows up on the skin. It can lead to painful patches of raised, shiny, and thickened skin.

The patches often appear red or pink with white or silver scales on light skin tones. On darker skin tones, they may be salmon-colored, violet, or sometimes difficult to see, according to experts.

Here are seven things to consider not putting on your skin if you have psoriasis.

It’s important to keep your skin moist by applying creams and lotions. Dry skin often makes psoriasis symptoms worse.

But you may want to choose your lotion carefully. Many contain ingredients that can dry out your skin even more. One of the biggest ingredients that can cause dry skin is alcohol.

Companies often use alcohols like ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and methanol to make a lotion feel lighter or to act as a preservative. These alcohols can dry out your skin’s protective barrier and make it difficult to lock in moisture.

When it comes to lotions for psoriasis, your best bet is one that’s thick and oily, like petroleum jelly or shea butter. These help trap moisture.

Unscented lotions that include ceramides are also better for people with psoriasis. Ceramides are the same type of lipids that we have in the outer layer of our skin.

Apply your moisturizer within a few minutes of bathing, showering, and washing your hands. You may also want to apply it right before you go to bed.

Fragrances are added to products to make them smell good. For some people, though, they can cause skin irritation.

To avoid making psoriasis worse, aim for a fragrance-free product when choosing a skin care or hair care product, the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) suggests. Try to avoid spraying perfumes directly on your skin as well.

Sulfates are ingredients often used in shampoo, toothpaste, and soap to help the product foam up. However, some types of sulfates can cause skin irritation, especially in people with sensitive skin and conditions like psoriasis.

Because of this, you may want to avoid products containing sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. If you’re unsure, look for product packaging that specifically says “sulfate-free.”

You may want to consider wearing light fabrics that won’t irritate your skin. Heavy fabrics like wool can irritate your already sensitive skin and even make you itchy.

Instead, choose gentler fabrics that allow your skin to breathe, such as cotton, silk blends, or cashmere, the NPF advises. Or, if you want to wear wool for warmth, layer it over a less irritating fabric.

Getting a tattoo requires making tiny cuts in the skin. This repetitive injury can trigger a psoriasis flare.

In one case, it even resulted in skin lesions all over the body, not just where the tattoo was applied, the NPF reports. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon. It can result from any traumatic injury to the skin.

Some tattoo artists may not agree to tattoo a person with psoriasis, even when someone doesn’t have active plaques. Some states even prohibit tattoo artists from tattooing a person with active psoriasis or eczema.

Despite the risks, some people with psoriasis still get tattoos. If you’re considering a tattoo, always talk with your dermatologist before making the decision.

You may have heard that vitamin D from the sun can benefit your skin. The ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight slow the growth of skin cells, which is good for psoriasis.

Phototherapy is a treatment for psoriasis that involves carefully exposing your skin to UV light. Phototherapy is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and uses UVA and UVB light. This process is also done with the assistance of a dermatologist.

However, moderation is key. If you want to naturally expose your skin to the sun, it’s essential that you don’t go overboard.

Aim for about 15–30 minutes at a time, which is the amount of time a doctor would typically perform phototherapy. Also, remember to use sunscreen. Sunburn may trigger psoriasis symptoms and can increase your risk of skin cancer.

While tanning beds may seem similar to phototherapy, you should avoid using them. Tanning beds use only UVA light, which isn’t effective for psoriasis. They also greatly increase your risk of skin cancer.

The NPF doesn’t support the use of indoor tanning beds in place of phototherapy.

Use warm water instead of hot water every time you bathe or shower. Hot water can be incredibly drying and irritating to your skin.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends taking just one daily shower or bath. They also recommend keeping your showers under 5 minutes long and baths under 15 minutes long.

Injuries, dry skin, and sunburns can all trigger psoriasis flare-ups, so it’s important that you take excellent care of your skin.

When considering a new skin care treatment, try to find out whether it’s been endorsed by dermatologists and check the ingredient list of any products you’re considering. Be wary of any product claiming it can “cure” psoriasis.

If you’re unsure about a particular household or skin care product, check to see if it has earned the NPF’s Seal of Recognition.

Here you’ll find answers to additional questions about safe things to put on your skin if you have psoriasis.

Is Vaseline good for psoriasis?

Thick and oily emollients like Vaseline are good for skin with psoriasis.

In fact, research from 2021 shows that they can help protect the skin’s barrier function. “Barrier function” refers to the skin’s ability to protect your body from the external environment while also keeping in moisture.

What makes skin psoriasis worse?

Any scented skin care products or those containing alcohol or sulfates may trigger psoriasis.

What is good to rub on psoriasis?

The NPF recommends a number of moisturizing and emollient lotions for skin with psoriasis. For over-the-counter products, consider choosing something with ceramides or salicylic acid.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that affects the skin. Certain skin care products can worsen the symptoms or trigger flares.

Always check the label of any product to make sure it does not contain a harsh ingredient. Knowing how to take care of your skin will help you keep psoriasis symptoms at bay.