The 6 Best Soaps For Psoriasis

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Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition caused by the excess buildup of skin. Understood to be the result of an overactive immune system, the buildup can result in red, flaky, and painful patches. Because it is chronic, the goal for psoriasis sufferers should be to manage symptoms and avoid and treat flare-ups, not to eliminate them completely. While it's smart to have prescriptions as the primary treatment, many parts of your daily routine, including showers, make an impact. The best soaps for psoriasis can help soothe and even treat symptoms, but you have to know what ingredients to look for, and what to avoid.

“In general, a gentle soap for washing is fine for most people with psoriasis,” explains John Zampella, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health. “The mainstay of treatments will likely come from your dermatologist in the form of a topical steroid or perhaps even an injectable biologic medicine.”

Some soaps, however, can help treat symptoms. The three ingredients Zampella recommends looking for are salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and urea. They act to help descale, or lift away, excess skin. Acne-fighter salicylic acid is the most common in soaps, and urea is most often found in moisturizers. However, you can also find a combination.

Zampella also points to research that suggestions anti-yeast shampoos, usually used as anti-dandruff shampoos, can help. Yeast, which is normally present on skin, may make inflammation worse for those with psoriasis. “Decreasing and targeting the yeast can be something you incorporate into your regimen a few times per week,” he says.

Because psoriasis can occur anywhere the skin is irritated, Zampella says to avoid harsh soaps that could irritate the skin. After bathing with a gentle or descaling soap, apply lotion to calm and potentially treat. Like with descaling soaps, lotions with ingredients like urea, lactic acid, and salicylic acid can help remove scaly skin and moisturize the layer beneath it.

As with all skin conditions, no solutions are one size fits all, so you also may want to experiment or talk to your dermatologist about the best ingredients for you. But no matter what your needs, when it comes to soap, the goal should be to avoid irritation and soothe the symptom.

1. The Most Powerful Descaling Soap

A simple, no-frills soap at a fair price, this bar contains no dyes or scents and 3 percent salicylic acid — good for dealing with psoriasis on the body but those with sensitive skin should avoid using this on the face — as well as sulfur, which acts as a drying agent. It promises to help with a number of skin conditions including rosacea and eczema, in addition to psoriasis. While it is not that moisturizing, one reviewer noted, “It lathers up with just a bit of water and doesn't dry my skin out with every day use.” After using it, just be sure to apply a rich moisturizer.

2. The Best Psoriasis Soap For Dry And Sensitive Skin

CeraVe’s psoriasis cleanser contains several ingredients to descale and moisturize irritated skin; 2 percent salicylic acid helps reduce redness and scaling, while niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, helps soothe skin. This bottle also contains urea, which moisturizes skin and even helps skin retain moisture better. Those with especially dry skin might prefer this method of delivering active ingredients to the skin over bar soaps. "I have sensitive skin and some skin cleanser with Salicylic Acid caused my face itchy and red. This CeraVe Psoriasis Skin Therapy Cleanser is gentle on skin but at the same time cleans my skin very well," one customer wrote.

3. A Gentle Cleansing Soap

If you aren’t looking for a soap that will treat symptoms, just one that will minimize irritation, Basis is a favorite super-gentle soap that will cleanse without irritating your psoriasis. Free from dyes and fragrances, it also contains soothing aloe vera to keep your skin from feeling too dry. With a 4.6-star overall rating, it is popular with reviewers with psoriasis. "I continue to re-order this soap for myself. I had a severe case of psoriasis and the only soap that would not bother my skin at all was this Basis soap," one customer wrote.

4. A Body Wash With Glycolic Acid

While salicylic acid is the most common descaler in soaps that treat psoriasis symptoms, glycolic acid also helps descale. Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid similar to lactic acid and some find it less drying and irritating that salicylic acid. Glycolic acid soaps are harder to find, but this super-gentle, hypoallergenic, pH-balanced cleanser will gently remove scaly, dry skin. Especially if your skin reacts poorly to salicylic acid, this is a good one to try.

5. An Anti-Dandruff Shampoo That Could Benefit Psoriasis Sufferers

Coal tar is used as a treatment for common dandruff but also has potential benefits for psoriasis sufferers, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Neutrogena's anti-dandruff shampoo can help relieve itchy scalps, and it even continues to treat symptoms after the shower. "Like many of the other 5 star reviews here, after two uses and less than a week my psoriasis covered scalp has almost completely disappeared. The red sores are almost gone, and I have no flakes or dandruff anymore. Smell is a little weird but I'll take it," wrote a fan.

6. An All-Natural Gentle Bar Soap

If you want a gentle cleanser that is also made with organic, earth-friendly ingredients that are rainforest-safe, Tom’s of Maine is a long-time favorite for a reason. Derived from all natural ingredients like moisturizing fair-trade coconut oil, it gently cleanses without stripping or irritating skin. No wonder it has earned more than 800 five-star reviews and is especially popular with those who have sensitive skin. One customer wrote: "Smells yummy. Does not dry out my skin. Lathers well. Actually cleared a rash on my back from another product! I have sensitive, breakout and psoriasis-prone skin."

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