Covers skin, scalp, and nail care for psoriasis. Includes info on why care is important. Offers tips on products that may help and those to avoid. Covers moisturizing skin and how to protect skin, scalp, and nails.
Psoriasis: Skin, Scalp, and Nail Care
If you have psoriasis, your skin is very
sensitive. To protect your skin, avoid:
Skin care products that irritate your
Scratching and picking your skin, and skin injuries such as
cuts or scrapes.
Cold, dry climates. Cold weather makes symptoms
The most important thing you can do is to keep
your skin moist. Use moisturizing creams, ointments, and lotions.
How do I protect my skin, scalp, and nails?
Protect your skin by:
Avoiding harsh skin products. For example,
use a mild soap (such as Dove, Basis, or Neutrogena) instead of deodorant soaps
or other harsh soaps (such as Camay, Lava, or Zest). Avoid lotions that contain
alcohol, which can dry the skin and make psoriasis
Preventing skin injury. Don't scratch and pick your skin or
cuts and scrapes. An injury to the skin can cause psoriasis patches to form
anywhere on the body, including the site of the injury. This includes injuries
to your nails or nearby skin while trimming your nails. Tight shoes, clothing,
watchbands, and hats can also irritate the skin.
climates. Cold, dry weather makes symptoms worse.
Being careful in the sun. Although short periods of sun exposure reduce psoriasis in most people, too much sun exposure can damage the skin and cause skin cancer. Also, sunburns can trigger flares of psoriasis.
Protect your nails by:
Soaking them before trimming.
Trimming them short and filing the edges smooth to avoid injuring them or scratching yourself. Avoid excessive cleaning under the nail, because it may promote psoriasis scale buildup.
Not cutting, tearing, or biting the skin around your nails (cuticles).
Using colorless nail polish to protect your nails.
Wearing gloves when working with your hands.
For moist skin
You can keep your skin moist by:
Using moisturizers after bathing. Some doctors believe that petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) works well. Crisco solid vegetable oil works and is very inexpensive. Other good moisturizers are Cetaphil, Lubriderm, and Eucerin.
Taking baths or soaks once a day to replace skin moisture
that may be lost due to cold, dry climates or to drying medicines. You will
benefit most by applying an ointment, cream, or lotion within 3 minutes after
your bath to seal in moisture. Otherwise, when the water evaporates, it will
make your skin even drier. Adding bath oils to your bath water can also help,
but this can make the tub slippery. If you add oils to your bath water, be very
Using a mild soap (such as Dove, Basis, or Neutrogena) instead of deodorant soaps or other harsh soaps (such as Camay, Lava, or Zest).
Using a home humidifier to increase moisture in the
Applying creams or lotions, then wrapping the area with fabric or plastic to keep the skin moist (called occlusion therapy).
Protect your scalp by:
Not digging, scratching, or picking at it.
Shampooing as often as needed to control scaling and allow medicines to reach the scalp. Work shampoo into a lather and let it stay on for at least 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it out.
Using products such as:
Mild coal tar shampoos (such as Neutrogena T/Gel, Polytar, and Zetar).
Anthralin preparations (such as Dritho-Scalp).
Shampoos containing zinc pyrithione (such as Head and Shoulders and Denorex) or selenium sulfide (such as Selsun).
Use prescribed medicines by following the instructions for skin products
and medicines prescribed for you.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.