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  • Psoriasis: Skin, Scalp, and Nail Care

Psoriasis: Skin, Scalp, and Nail Care

Introduction

Key points

  • If you have psoriasis, your skin is very sensitive. To protect your skin, avoid:
    • Skin care products that irritate your skin.
    • Scratching and picking your skin, and skin injuries such as cuts or scrapes.
    • Cold, dry climates. Cold weather makes symptoms worse.
  • The most important thing you can do is to keep your skin moist. Use moisturizing creams, ointments, and lotions.
 

Skin care for psoriasis includes protecting your skin, keeping it moist, and using prescribed medicines.

  • Protect your skin by avoiding harsh skin products, skin injury, and cold climates.
  • Keep your skin moist by using moisturizing creams, ointments, and lotions; taking baths or soaks once a day; or applying creams or lotions and then wrapping the area.
  • Use prescribed medicines by following the instructions for skin products and medicines prescribed for you.

Test Your Knowledge

An important part of treatment for psoriasis is to keep your skin moist.

  • True
    This answer is correct.

    Keeping your skin moist is effective in preventing or reducing symptoms of psoriasis.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    Keeping your skin moist is effective in preventing or reducing symptoms of psoriasis.

  •  

Continue to Why?

 

Skin care is important because it can prevent or reduce the symptoms of psoriasis. It can also help prevent infections and injuries to your skin, which can result in flare-ups of symptoms.

Taking care of your skin involves protecting your skin, keeping it moist, and using prescribed medicines. These steps will improve the condition of your skin.

Test Your Knowledge

Skin care can prevent or reduce the symptoms of psoriasis.

  • True
    This answer is correct.

    Protecting your skin, keeping it moist, and using prescribed medicines can prevent or reduce the symptoms of psoriasis.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    Protecting your skin, keeping it moist, and using prescribed medicines can prevent or reduce the symptoms of psoriasis.

  •  

Continue to How?

 

Protect your skin by:

  • Avoiding harsh skin products. For example, use a mild soap (such as Dove, Basis, or Neutrogena) instead of deodorant soaps or other harsh soaps (such as Camay, Lava, or Zest). Avoid lotions that contain alcohol, which can dry the skin and make psoriasis worse.
  • Preventing skin injury. Don't scratch and pick your skin or cuts and scrapes. An injury to the skin can cause psoriasis patches to form anywhere on the body, including the site of the injury. This includes injuries to your nails or nearby skin while trimming your nails. Tight shoes, clothing, watchbands, and hats can also irritate the skin.
  • Avoiding cold climates. Cold, dry weather makes symptoms worse.
  • Being careful in the sun. Although short periods of sun exposure reduce psoriasis in most people, too much sun exposure can damage the skin and cause skin cancer. Also, sunburns can trigger flares of psoriasis.

Protect your nails by:

  • Soaking them before trimming.
  • Trimming them short and filing the edges smooth to avoid injuring them or scratching yourself. Avoid excessive cleaning under the nail, because it may promote psoriasis scale buildup.
  • Not cutting, tearing, or biting the skin around your nails (cuticles).
  • Using colorless nail polish to protect your nails.
  • Wearing gloves when working with your hands.

Keep your skin moist by:

  • Using moisturizers after bathing. Some doctors believe that petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) works well. Crisco solid vegetable oil works and is very inexpensive. Other good moisturizers are Cetaphil, Lubriderm, and Eucerin.
  • Taking baths or soaks once a day to replace skin moisture that may be lost due to cold, dry climates or to drying medicines. You will benefit most by applying an ointment, cream, or lotion within 3 minutes after your bath to seal in moisture. Otherwise, when the water evaporates, it will make your skin even drier. Adding bath oils to your bath water can also help, but this can make the tub slippery. If you add oils to your bath water, be very careful.
  • Using a mild soap (such as Dove, Basis, or Neutrogena) instead of deodorant soaps or other harsh soaps (such as Camay, Lava, or Zest).
  • Using a home humidifier to increase moisture in the air.
  • Applying creams or lotions, then wrapping the area with fabric or plastic to keep the skin moist (called occlusion therapy).

Protect your scalp by:

  • Not digging, scratching, or picking at it.
  • Shampooing as often as needed to control scaling and allow medicines to reach the scalp. Work shampoo into a lather and let it stay on for at least 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it out.
  • Using products such as:
    • Mild coal tar shampoos (such as Neutrogena T/Gel, Polytar, and Zetar).
    • Anthralin preparations (such as Dritho-Scalp).
    • Shampoos containing zinc pyrithione (such as Head and Shoulders and Denorex) or selenium sulfide (such as Selsun).

Use prescribed medicines by following the instructions for skin products and medicines prescribed for you.

Test Your Knowledge

Injury to your skin, such as cuts or scrapes, can affect psoriasis.

  • True
    This answer is correct.

    Injury to your skin increases the chances of a psoriasis flare-up or of making psoriasis symptoms worse.

  • False
    This answer is incorrect.

    Injury to your skin increases the chances of a psoriasis flare-up or of making psoriasis symptoms worse.

  •  

Continue to Where?

 

For more information about skin care for psoriasis, talk to your:

For more information, see the topic Psoriasis.

Return to topic:

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
Last Revised January 9, 2012

Last Revised: January 9, 2012

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