Relieving Psoriasis Symptoms with Over-the-Counter Treatments

Reviewed: June 16, 2016
By eHealthIQ
Relieving Psoriasis Symptoms with Over-the-Counter Treatments

Psoriasis is a skin disorder in which skin cells multiply up to 10 times more quickly than usual. As the underlying skin cells arrive at the skin’s surface and die, they cause red, raised plaques with white scales. Psoriasis is most commonly seen on the knees, elbows, and scalp, but it can also appear on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and torso. While the symptoms of psoriasis can vary depending on what type you have, common symptoms of plaque psoriasis, the most prevalent type of the disease, include plaques and fingernail and toenail disorders. Plaques may itch or hurt and are often covered with scales. While you may need prescription treatment, you can find relief for the condition using over the counter psoriasis treatments options as well:

Salicylic Acid: Salicylic acid is a keratolytic (peeling agent) that works by causing the outer layer of skin to shed. As a treatment for psoriasis, salicylic acid aids in softening and removing scales. Salicylic acid is usually safe. However, if it’s left on the skin for too long, it can cause skin irritation. Salicylic acid can also weaken hair shafts, which can lead to temporary hair loss on the skin where it was applied.

Coal Tar: Coal tar can aid in reducing psoriasis itching, scales, and inflammation. It can also restore the skin’s appearance and slow the growth of skin cells. Typically, the higher the concentration of coal tar, the more effective the product is.

Tar can stain clothes, bedding, and light-colored hair. It can also redden, irritate, and dry the skin out. Additionally, tar makes you more sensitive to the sun, so you need to cover up exposed skin or wear sunscreen when you go outdoors. When applied to the skin, coal tar remains active for 24 hours.

Some studies have shown that chemicals in coal tar can lead to cancer but only in very high concentrations. The United States Food and Drug Administration maintains that over-the-counter products containing coal tar in concentrations of 0.5 to five percent are safe. It is recommended that you follow a regular skin cancer checkup schedule if you decide to utilize coal tar for psoriasis treatment.

Moisturizers: Keeping the skin moisturized aids in decreasing redness and itching and helps the skin heal. There are many over-the-counter moisturizing lotions available for purchase. Cooking oil and shortening are economical alternatives to expensive lotions. It’s best to apply a moisturizer after taking a shower and washing your hands. It’s recommended that you take lukewarm showers, and limit their duration to 10 minutes or less. You can also wash your hands with moisturizing soap to help your skin stay hydrated.

Dead Sea Salts and Epsom Salts: Taking a lukewarm bath with dead sea salts or Epsom salts can help reduce itching and remove scales. Soak in the tub for 15 minutes, and apply moisturizer immediately afterward.

Oats: Though not scientifically proven to help with the treatment of psoriasis, many people say that taking a bath with oats reduces skin redness and itching.

Aloe Vera: Some research has shown that aloe vera can reduce the scaling and redness associated with psoriasis. You can get aloe vera directly from the plant or purchase a product over-the-counter containing the ingredient. Purchase creams with at least 0.5% aloe in them. Do not take aloe vera in tablet form as it is both ineffective for psoriasis and dangerous for your health.

Capsaicin: When added to ointments or creams, capsaicin blocks nerve endings that transit pain. Research has shown that over-the-counter creams and ointments containing capsaicin aid in decreasing scaling, redness, pain, and inflammation. More research is necessary in order to determine its long-term safety and benefits.

Psoriasis is irritating and uncomfortable. Over-the-counter psoriasis treatments can provide you with relief from the itching, pain, redness, and scaling associated with the condition.

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