Psoriasis is a chronic condition that can cause itchy, flaky patches of raised skin known as plaques. Several treatments and home remedies can help a person find relief.
Medications that a doctor prescribes can help reduce the severity of symptoms and increase the time between flares. A person may also find that certain at-home treatments are effective in providing relief.
The following are some potential ways that a person can find relief from the itchiness associated with psoriasis.
A person should work with their doctor to determine the best therapies for them. Following a proper treatment plan is the first step toward reducing itchy psoriasis patches.
A person should let their doctor know if their symptoms are worsening or not improving with a particular treatment so that the doctor can recommend a different therapy.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), a doctor will likely suggest at least one of four main therapies. These are:
- topical treatments, such as corticosteroids
- medications, such as oral medication or biologics
- alternative or complementary therapy
A treatment plan may sometimes include a combination of these therapies to help reduce the severity of symptoms and prevent flares.
Psoriasis flakes are dead skin cells that the body is in the process of shedding. This process can make itchiness worse. There are several methods of preventing and removing the scales or flakes on a psoriasis plaque to reduce itchiness.
According to the Global Healthy Living Foundation, a person could try using tea tree oil, coconut oil, or aloe vera to moisturize and prevent flakes. For scalp psoriasis, a person can also try using dandruff shampoos and moisturizers that contain salicylic acid to help the flakes fall off.
The NPF also recommends using products that contain salicylic acid to help safely remove flakes and scales. Another recommendation is to use products containing coal or wood tar to slow skin growth and reduce scaling and itchiness.
Psoriasis symptoms can worsen when the skin is dry. People can help prevent flares or worsening symptoms by limiting their total bathing time.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends that a person only take one bath or shower a day. It also advises showering for no more than 5 minutes or bathing for a maximum of 15 minutes to prevent drying out the skin.
Following a bath or shower, a person should pat their skin dry and apply moisturizer.
The AAD recommends using warm water when bathing or showering instead of hot water.
Hot water can dry or irritate the skin, causing psoriasis symptoms to worsen.
Over-the-counter creams, ointments, and moisturizers can often provide some relief. The AAD recommends the following products to help manage psoriasis symptoms, including itchiness:
- Hydrocortisone cream: This can help reduce itching and inflammation.
- Scale softeners: These products contain salicylic acid to help remove flaking and reduce itchiness.
- Coal tar: Many products contain this active ingredient, which can help reduce itchiness, redness, swelling, flaking, scaling, and skin growth.
- Heavy, oil-based moisturizers: A person should apply these at least once a day or when skin is dry.
- Anti-itch creams and ointments: A person should look for products that contain ingredients such as camphor or hydrocortisone.
Topical steroids are one of the most common treatments for psoriasis, according to the NPF. Corticosteroids come in various strengths, and they can help reduce the body’s inflammatory response.
A person can discuss with their doctor whether topical steroids might be suitable for them. The NPF suggests:
- avoiding using the cream around the eyes
- using only a small amount of the cream
- limiting its use to 3 weeks at a time, unless the doctor advises otherwise
The NPF also notes that while stronger creams are better at clearing symptoms, they can have worse side effects than less potent medications.
Due to this, lower strength steroids may be a better option for sensitive areas, such as the groin, breasts, and face.
Dry skin can make psoriasis symptoms worse. Both the NPF and the AAD recommend using moisturizers as part of the overall treatment of a person’s psoriasis. They suggest using fragrance-free moisturizers, as products with added scents can irritate the skin.
A person can keep their skin moisturized by using a gentle, moisturizing soap during their bath or shower.
They can then apply a fragrance-free moisturizer to all of their skin within 5 minutes of the shower or bath.
Several lotions are available to purchase over the counter. The NPF recommend a range of products that people can consider using to get relief from psoriasis symptoms.
A person may need to try different lotions to find the one that works best for them. They should apply the lotion at least once daily, ideally after showering or when the skin is particularly dry.
According to the AAD, applying a cold compress to the skin can help relieve itching. This technique works because the cold numbs the nerves that send itch signals to the brain.
A person can wrap an ice pack in a towel or cloth and put the compress on the itchy area of skin. However, it is important not to keep the cold compress on the skin for any longer than a few minutes.
Acupuncture may relieve psoriasis symptoms for some people. In one
A person interested in trying acupuncture to manage their psoriasis symptoms can ask their doctor for a recommendation or use the find-a-practitioner tool that the American Society of Acupuncturists provides on its website.
Home remedies and alternative therapies can fit into a treatment plan for psoriasis, but a person should not use them as a substitute for medical treatment. A person should work with their doctor to best manage their psoriasis, which will also help control the itchiness.
People with psoriasis can also take several steps at home to lessen their symptoms. These include limiting their shower or bath time and using a fragrance-free moisturizer regularly.