Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes inflamed, scaly patches of skin. It most commonly affects the skin on the knees, elbows, and scalp. However, it may also affect other parts of the body, including other parts of the legs.
Psoriasis can lead to scarring, skin thickening, and changes in skin pigmentation. Hypopigmentation happens when the skin becomes lighter than it used to be, and hyperpigmentation occurs when it becomes darker.
A person can take several steps to manage psoriasis symptoms or markings on their legs if they wish.
Getting treatment for psoriasis can help limit the inflammation that causes symptoms such as scaling, dryness, and discomfort. It may also help prevent scarring, skin thickening, and pigment changes.
A doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments for psoriasis:
- medicated ointment, cream, or other topical treatments
- systemic treatment, such as oral or injectable medication
- phototherapy, which uses UV light from a special lamp or light unit
Regularly applying moisturizer may also help limit psoriasis symptoms and prevent certain complications.
Cosmetic treatments are available to help reduce the appearance of scarring, skin thickening, and pigment changes. Examples include:
- medicated ointments, creams, and other topical treatments
- microneedling, microdermabrasion, or dermabrasion
- laser or light therapy
Some cosmetic treatments may not be suitable for people with dark skin tones.
A doctor can help people learn about the potential benefits and risks of different treatments.
Certain triggers may cause a flare of psoriasis symptoms on the legs or other parts of the body.
Common triggers include:
- skin injury, including piercings, cuts, scrapes, sunburns, and insect bites
- new tattoos
- cold, dry weather conditions
- hot temperatures
People can take steps to limit exposure to these triggers on the legs, such as:
- avoiding getting tattoos on the legs
- wearing long pants or applying sunscreen and bug repellent to bare legs when spending time outdoors
- wearing warm clothing that covers the legs in cold weather conditions
- using lukewarm rather than hot water to bathe and shower
- avoiding the use of hot tubs, steam rooms, and saunas
Where possible, limiting stress may also help prevent flares of psoriasis symptoms.
Psoriasis symptoms may affect a person’s body image, self-esteem, and mental health. If people feel self-conscious or anxious about psoriasis symptoms, they can speak with their doctor, who may recommend changes to their psoriasis treatment plan.
They may also refer a person experiencing these feelings to a mental health professional who can help with managing anxiety or other mental health effects.
If they wish, a person may wear pants, leggings, tights, knee-high socks, or a skirt long enough to cover psoriasis symptoms or markings on their legs.
However, people with psoriasis on the legs may find wearing loose-fitting pants or a loose skirt more comfortable than tight clothing. Tight clothes that rub against inflamed skin may increase irritation and other symptoms.
It may also help to wear clothing made from soft, breathable fabrics, such as cotton, silk, or bamboo. These materials may help reduce friction and sweating, which can make psoriasis symptoms worse.
Applying camouflage cream or other makeup may cover discoloration from psoriasis on the legs. Camouflage cream is a type of makeup that contains a lot of pigment to cover discoloration.
It may be best to:
- wait at least 10 minutes after applying topical treatments before applying makeup
- flex or bend the knees or other joints when applying makeup to those areas
- layer a loose powder, fixing spray, or both on top camouflage cream
A person may need to try multiple makeup products or mix multiple tints to find the right product and color tone for their skin.
Some makeup products may irritate the skin and worsen psoriasis symptoms. It may help to choose products free of common irritants, such as fragrances and glitter.
A person can perform a patch test to learn whether a makeup product irritates their skin.
First, they can apply it to a small patch of skin and leave it on for as long as someone would typically wear it. Ideally, it is best to perform this test 7–10 days in a row to learn how a product affects the skin. If the person does not develop a skin reaction or a flare in psoriasis symptoms, they can use the product on larger areas.
A person will need to remove a makeup product right away if it causes a skin reaction or a flare in psoriasis symptoms.
Using makeup to cover psoriasis symptoms or markings may be more effective if the skin is relatively flat. It may be harder to cover lesions or scars that are very rough or raised.
A person may use a clean, sterile bandage or other dressing to cover psoriasis symptoms or markings on their legs. This may be more effective if the area is relatively small.
Some adhesive bandages are available in various colors to match different skin tones.
Getting treatment for psoriasis can help reduce active symptoms and prevent complications such as scarring, skin thickening, and pigment changes. Cosmetic treatments are also available to manage changes in skin appearance.
A person may also find it helpful to cover psoriasis symptoms or markings with clothing, makeup, or bandages during a flare.