Topical Treatments

Topical treatments—medications applied to the skin—are usually the first line of defense in treating psoriasis. Topicals slow down or normalize excessive cell reproduction and reduce psoriasis inflammation.

There are several effective topical treatments for psoriasis. While many can be purchased over the counter (OTC), others are available by prescription only.

Corticosteroids, or just "steroids," are the most frequently used treatment for psoriasis. They are referred to as anti-inflammatory agents, because they reduce the swelling and redness of lesions. Anthralin, synthetic vitamin D3, and vitamin A are also used in prescription topical treatments to control psoriasis lesions.

OTC topicals come in many different forms. Two active ingredients, salicylic acid and coal tar, are approved by the FDA for the treatment of psoriasis. There are other products that contain substances such as aloe vera, jojoba, zinc pyrithione and capsaicin, which are used to moisturize, soothe, remove scale or relieve itching.

Learn more about topical treatments

Do you have additional questions about topical treatments?

NPF’s Patient Navigation Center is the world's first, personalized support center for psoriatic disease. Our Patient Navigators can answer your questions about different types of topicals, help you understand associated side effects and more. 

For free and confidential assistance, contact our Patient Navigators »