You may be ready to try a new product for your psoriasis. It could be that your skin care regimen needs a lift because your current products aren’t working, seem too expensive, or are difficult to find. Learn to read labels at the pharmacy to determine what products work best for your psoriasis. This will help you narrow in on which ones to try and which ones to avoid.
Things to consider before going to the pharmacy
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that often requires multilevel management. Remember that over-the-counter products may be used to help psoriasis but won’t cure your condition.
You and your doctor should devise a treatment plan that works best for your symptoms and the type of psoriasis you have. Mild psoriasis generally just requires topical treatments, while moderate to severe psoriasis needs a combination of treatments. These treatments include topical products, light therapy, and systemic medications.
Lotions, creams, gels, and bath products available in your pharmacy may be useful in your daily skin care routine. You use these emollients to help manage and control your psoriasis. These products provide the following benefits:
- Help remove scale in advance of applying other treatments.
- Help reduce scale and lessen the appearance of psoriasis.
- Keep your skin soft, including the areas affected by psoriasis.
- Lessen the itch that you experience from psoriasis.
- Keep moisture in your skin.
- Protect your skin from environmental factors that might irritate it.
Note that products available over the counter are limited in treating psoriasis flares. Over-the-counter products that contain active ingredients are generally low in concentration. These treatments may be useful for your psoriasis, but check with your doctor first. You may need a more concentrated product that requires a prescription.
What ingredients to look for
If you’re on the hunt for new ointments for psoriasis, make sure to look for certain ingredients.
Ingredients that may specifically target your psoriasis scale include:
- salicylic acid
- coal tar
Follow the directions on the package of products containing these ingredients. You shouldn’t overuse products containing active ingredients. Get instructions from your doctor or ask the pharmacist for basic information prior to trying a new product.
Additionally, there are some natural ingredients that may help your psoriasis, including:
- aloe vera
- Epsom salts (for bathing)
- zinc pyrithione
Use these natural ingredients with caution. Some may irritate your skin or cause an allergic reaction. Discontinue use immediately if you notice worsening or new symptoms.
What ingredients to avoid
Some ingredients should be avoided when treating psoriasis. Many products could irritate your psoriasis because they contain:
- abrasive ingredients
- too many chemicals
You should also steer clear of soap, as it can dry the skin. Try a psoriasis-friendly body wash instead.
Here’s the bottom line when selecting emollients for psoriasis: Choose products that moisturize, are tailored for sensitive skin, and are hypoallergenic. This will help you avoid irritants.
Expert-recommended over-the-counter products
The National Psoriasis Foundation, a leading organization for psoriasis information, awards seals of recognition to several over-the-counter products that you may want to try. Keep in mind that these products are brand name, but many generic products may work just as well. Some of the products include:
- Curel Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer
- Dermarest Psoriasis Medicated Treatment Gel, Shampoo Plus Conditioner, and Moisturizer
- Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo — Original Formula, Extra Strength, and Stubborn Itch
- Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Conditioner
- Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo
- MG217 Medicated Coal Tar Ointment and Shampoo
- MG217 Salicylic Acid Multi-Symptom Moisturizing Cream
Several other brands may carry emollients that might be helpful in treating psoriasis. Some brands you may want to check out include:
When evaluating new products, make sure they contain psoriasis-friendly ingredients and avoid ones that may aggravate your condition.
Keep in mind that not all products by these brands or others will be useful for psoriasis. Even if a product is marketed for psoriasis or sensitive skin, you may react to a product differently from another user. Make sure to discontinue use and contact your doctor if you experience any adverse symptoms when trying a new product.
Now you know what to look for when you hit the pharmacy shelves. Treating psoriasis effectively can help control your symptoms and improve your quality of life. There are many products available over the counter that you can try.
Tips for using over-the-counter treatments
- Try applying emollients right after bathing or showering to retain moisture in your skin.
- Apply ointments at night because they are thicker and take longer to absorb. Lighter products are better for the morning.
- Some products may work even better if you cover them with plastic wrap or a waterproof dressing, which is known as occlusion. Don’t try this for steroids or other prescriptions without consulting your doctor.
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National Psoriasis Foundation. (n.d.). Over-the-counter product guide. Retrieved from https://www.psoriasis.org/sites/default/files/over-the-counter_product_guide_fact_sheet.pdf
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