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Head-to-Toe Relief

Over-the-counter products can help you effectively manage the symptoms of psoriasis and extremely dry skin.

All the itching, pain, and flaking can make it feel like your psoriasis or extremely dry skin is trying to compel all your attention. It can be hard to focus and enjoy life.

Luckily, a number of products out there can be effective in addressing these relentless symptoms. You deserve relief, so let’s take a look at some things to consider before trying an over-the-counter (OTC) product.

First, an important note: No moisturizer, shampoo, sunscreen, or cream will address the systemic inflammation of psoriatic disease. When you have psoriasis, what you see on the skin is only the visible part of the disease. Psoriasis is associated with inflammation throughout the body that can lead to related conditions and diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or even anxiety and depression.

Consult your health care provider to find the right treatment to address psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis and its underlying systemic inflammation. Talk with your provider about the OTC products you plan to use and remember that what works for one person may not work for another.

Lotions, Balms, and Creams

When you are making your next OTC moisturizer selection, keep in mind that all lotions and creams are not created equal. Many contain chemicals, fragrances, and dyes that could irritate your skin. Some of the essential oils that lend their scents to many face and body products – even those formulated for sensitive skin – can irritate the skin of some people, for example.

Use caution with or avoid:

  • harmful chemicals
  • fragrances
  • dyes
  • some essential oils

What About Sunscreen?

Protecting skin from the sun is an important part of a healthy skin care routine. While some people with psoriasis say they experience improvement in skin symptoms after mild exposure to sunlight, protecting skin from the damage the sun can cause remains vitally important. That is why the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) turned to Laura Korb Ferris, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, to help shed some light on important questions related to sunscreen and psoriasis.

Dr. Ferris explains that ultraviolet light from the sun penetrates the layers of the skin and can cause extreme sunburn or even increase your chances of developing skin cancer, so slather up or spray on sunscreen regularly.

Dr. Ferris recommends looking for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and that are at least SPF 30. She also suggests:

  • avoiding peak sun hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • wearing a hat
  • wearing clothing with ultraviolet protection

What Do I Do About Symptoms on the Scalp?

OTC psoriasis shampoo products primarily utilize two active ingredients, says dermatologist Meghan Feely, M.D., a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. These active ingredients are used in various combinations with other ingredients that are intended to be nonirritating to the skin.

The two active ingredients you should look for in OTC products are salicylic acid and tar (either coal or wood tar). Salicylic acid works to soften plaques and scales and remove scales from the skin, while tar made from coal or wood works to slow skin cell growth and reduce inflammation, itching, and scaling.

Where Do I Begin?

Always start any skin care routine by talking with your health care provider. If you experience psoriasis – even just mild symptoms of the disease – you should also talk with your dermatologist about how to appropriately treat psoriasis and the body-wide inflammation associated with it. Shampoos, moisturizers, and sunscreens can work as powerful complementary tools in concert with a prescribed treatment plan.

Discover Products

To learn more about products to soothe the symptoms of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, browse the NPF Seal of Recognition directory.

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