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.