Psoriasis is one of the most common skin diseases. It is a chronic relapsing and scaling skin disease which can appear at any age and may affect any part of the skin surface. For the record, this skin disease is not contagious. Psoriasis, whether on your scalp or on your body, is easily treated through moisturizers, natural remedies, and medication. See Step 1 below to get started on returning your skin to a natural, healthy, glowing state.
Part One of Five:
Moisturizing Your SkinEdit
1Apply unscented moisturizers to your skin each day to help fight plaque psoriasis. It is important to keep your skin well hydrated because plaque psoriasis causes your skin to be very dry and itchy.
- Apply moisturizers to retain the moisture in your body, especially after taking baths or showers.
- You should use mild, unscented moisturizers and lotions to prevent drying of the skin, itchiness, and scaling problems. Moisturizers with scents can sometimes contain allergens or irritants.
2Apply olive oil to your affected areas. This oil – easily found in most kitchens – can help you in treating psoriasis. Just apply a small amount onto the affected areas, massage it in a circular motion and let it stay on the skin for several minutes.
- After the scaly patches have softened, you can remove the dead skin gently with a loofah or skin scrub.
- You can use this treatment several times a day until the scales have been totally removed.
3Try applying fish oil to keep your skin moisturized. This is a supplement that comes in a gel-like capsule form that is usually taken to improve heart health. However, it's good for the skin too. It contains omega 3 fatty acids that help heal psoriasis patches.
- Fish oil for the skin may not be taken orally but rather should be applied topically. Cut the gel capsule on the tip and let the oil ooze from the inside.
- Apply the oil to the affected areas of skin using a gentle circular motion. This will help in softening and smoothing scaly patches of skin.
- You can apply the fish oil several times a day until scales have been totally removed.
4Try paraffin oils or emulsifying ointment BP. Mild psoriasis on knees and elbows can be treated with a mild emollient, such as emulsifying ointment BP or white, soft paraffin. Both of these substances will minimize scaling and prevent development of cracks on the skin.
- These are available in many skin and hygiene stores, some grocery stores, and online.
5Remember to use mild soaps to keep your skin from getting dry and irritated. Many soaps contain harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin and make psoriasis worse. Therefore, it’s important that you choose hypoallergenic soaps which contain mild ingredients. A mild soap and warm water will help keep your condition from getting worse.
- Examples of mild soaps include Aveeno cleansing bars, Nivea cream bars, or phisoderm soaps.
Part Two of Five:
Getting Rid of Plaque with Natural RemediesEdit
1Soak the affected area in apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar contains its own healing, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties. It is also known to treat burns and skin inflammations. You can soak the affected body part in a mixture of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water.
- You can also use cotton balls to apply ACV to the skin. Just pour small amounts of apple cider vinegar to the cotton balls and directly apply to affected areas.
- You can do this twice per day until patches and redness have improved. If your skin gets easily irritated refrain from using this method, as apple cider vinegar is quite acidic.
2Apply aloe vera to the plaque. If you have an aloe vera plant at home you can just slice one of its leaves horizontally and apply the gel-like sap directly onto the plaque. This will smooth and naturally moisturize dry scaly patches.
- You can also purchase aloe gel in local pharmacies and grocery stores.
- Apply 3 times a day or more, depending on the dryness of the patches.
3Expose the affected area to plenty of sunlight. Sunlight exposure is the simplest yet one of the most effective methods of treating plaque psoriasis. Try exposing affected body parts to sunlight for 10 minutes of noontime sun every day and gradually increase the exposure time by 30 seconds each day.
- Take precautions as heat from sunlight causes sunburns. If you choose to expose yourself to sunlight don’t apply any cream as this can make you more sensitive to heat but you should apply sunscreens to unaffected areas.
- If you expose the affected skin to sunlight on a consistent daily basis, you will gradually notice your symptoms improving over time.
4Purchase coal tar from a natural remedies store or pharmacist. Coal tar is an effective treatment for plaque psoriasis. It is made of coal and wood and helps to reduce inflammation, remove scales, and slow the growth of excess skin cells.
- Coal tar penetrates layers of the skin and reduces excessive thickening and scaling of the skin – it does this by breaking down a protein named keratin, which is responsible for skin growth and formation.
- This is also an OTC drug/ointment/cream that can be bought in most pharmacies. The greater the concentration of this product, the more it is effective.
- Tar shampoo can be particularly good for treating plaque on the scalp.
Part Three of Five:
Taking Nourishing BathsEdit
1Try to take one bath a day. Soaking yourself in a tub or showering can help to moisturize and hydrate your skin, as well as softening and removing scaly patches.
- Be sure to use warm and not hot water as hot water removes the skin’s natural oils and can make dryness worse.
- After taking a bath, always apply moisturizers, lotion, and emollient creams within 5 minutes to lock in moisture. Otherwise you may find that your skin feels even itchier than before.
2Soak in an oatmeal bath. Oatmeal contains saponins that are healthy for the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that are also good for other skin problems. It helps neutralize the skin’s pH and also relieves itchiness. Just add 1 to 2 cups of uncooked oatmeal in a lukewarm tub and soak your body for at least 25 minutes and rinse off using water and apply moisturizers right away.
- Oatmeal also has phenols and flavonoids that help protect skin form the harmful UV rays of the sun.
3Create an Epsom salt soak for yourself. Mineral-rich Epsom salt can help smooth and soften scaly patches on skin, reduce inflammation, and treat plaque psoriasis. You can add 1 cup of Epsom salt in a lukewarm tub and soak your body for 15 minutes and rinse using water only. Apply moisturizer right away.
- Partially dissolved Epsom salt crystals can be used in scrubbing your skin – just make sure you only apply minimal pressure as vigorous rubbing can irritate skin.
4Use vegetable oil in your bath. This oil contains glycerin, which works very well for dry skin. Dry skin can make the itching and redness worse which is why it is important to keep skin well hydrated. You can pour ½ cup of vegetable oil in the tub and soak your body for 10 minutes to reap its benefits.
- Rinse using mild soap and water and apply moisturizer afterward, as usual. The residue of the vegetable oil should not be left on your skin.
Part Four of Five:
Using Creams and Medical TreatmentEdit
1Apply medical cream that contains .075% capsaicin. This is an ingredient found in cayenne pepper that is responsible for making chili peppers hot. Capsaicin blocks the nerve endings that produce pain – in other words, it helps resolve itching and heals plaque psoriasis. You can apply the cream as directed in the patient information leaflet that comes with purchase.
- It will cause a burning sensation when applied to plaque and it usually takes 1 week for it to work. However, generally it is effective.
2Use salicylic acid cream or gel. This treatment contains keratolytic properties that help peel the outermost layer of the skin and help remove scales and dead skin cells. This is found in many products such as creams, shampoos, gel, and ointments. You can buy any topical cream containing salicylic acid.
- This is an over-the-counter medication that can be purchased in any local pharmacy. However, for stronger concentrations, you'll need a prescription from your doctor.
3Spread over-the-counter corticosteroid cream on the plaque for fast, short-term relief. 1% Hydrocortisone is a mild steroid cream that reduces skin inflammation. It is widely available in pharmacies, grocery, and convenient stores.
- If your psoriasis is mild, this will likely work well for you.However, in severe cases of psoriasis you will be advised to apply prescription steroids that are stronger.
4Try vitamin D ointment. Calcipotriene (Dovonex) is a prescription drug that helps slow down the growing process of cells. It also aids in removing scales and reducing skin lesions. Talk to your doctor first as this cream can cause skin irritation.
5Apply anthralin to the plaque. Anthralin (Drithocreme 0.1%, 0.25% HP, Micanol 1%) is useful for chronic extensor surface plaque and scalp problems. With the short-contact method, the patient applies the medication and washes off in 20 minutes. The Dithranol remains on the epidermis in small quantities after washing.
- The medication should be confined to the plaque. It may cause redness and irritation in otherwise healthy skin.
6Use tazarotene (tazorac) gel at night. Tazarotene (Tazorac) gel 0.05% and 0.1% can be used topically once per night. The medication should be confined to the plaque. Ask your doctor if this is a viable option for you.
- Topical steroids are applied once a day to control irritation which is a side effect of Tazorac.
7Consider beginning phototherapy. Phototherapy is usually an effective treatment for psoriasis. Ultraviolet light may be used in combination with topical treatment. Ultraviolet B (UVB) is typically given 3 to 5 times a week. These are wavelengths found in natural sunlight and are administered in carefully measured doses from light sources.
- Narrow band UVB is even more effective in rapidly clearing psoriatic plaques. Tar and lubricants enhance the effectiveness of UVB. Side effects include sun burning and premature skin aging.
- Psoralen plus ultraviolet (PUVA) requires therapy three times a week until the condition resolves and then it is tapered off. Patients take photosensitizing agent psoralen 1½ to 2 hours before exposure to UVA.
- Patients must wear dark glasses during treatment and for 24 hours thereafter.This treatment is used for symptomatic control of severe, recalcitrant, disabling plaque psoriasis.
8Talk to your doctor about undergoing laser treatments. Excimer laser uses high intensity beams of UVB rays (Ultraviolet light B) that treat psoriasis plaques. This method of treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administrators (FDA). It is reserved for severe cases of psoriasis and must come recommended by your doctor.
- It usually takes 4 to 10 sessions until improvement is seen.
9Take systemic medications. If all these treatments do not respond to you, you will be advised to take drugs that act throughout the body. These drugs will be prescribed by your doctor and will help in reducing inflammation, suppressing the immune system and will reduce production of skin cells.
- Common medications recommended are methotrexate, hydroxyurea, retinoids, and cyclosporine.
10Talk to your doctor about taking Methotrexate as a last resort. Methotrexate is very useful to control severe plaque psoriasis. It is given orally, intramuscularly or subcutaneously. The regimen should be worked up to a dose of 12.5 to 50 mg/week.
- Folic acid, 1 mg/day, is also given but not on the day that MTX is administered. This medication requires close follow-ups including monitoring of the complete blood count and liver function tests.
Part Five of Five:
Dealing Specifically with Scalp PlaquesEdit
1Use salicylic acid or tar shampoo to remove superficial plaques. Superficial scales are removed with salicylic acid [T/Sal] or tar [T/Gel, Reme-T, Pentrax] shampoos. Just like salicylic acid can help the psoriasis on your skin, it can be effective on the scalp, too. And it won't damage your hair, either.
2Try applying fluocinolone at night and washing it out in the morning. Diffuse scalp scales can be removed with fluocinolone (Derma-Smoothe/FS) lotion at bedtime and washed out in the morning. This regimen should be repeated for 5 to 10 days. It removes the scales and controls inflammation.
- Try applying other ointments at bedtime, too. Phenol, sodium chloride and liquid paraffin (Baker P and S) can be applied at bedtime and washed out in the morning.
3Consider trying an olive oil turban if you have plaque on your scalp. Hot olive-oil turbans also help remove very thick scaling. They are just what they sound like – your scalp doused in olive oil, wrapped in one or two wet, hot towels. Leave them wrapped around your head for 30 minutes to fight psoriasis.
- You can repeat this treatment as often as you'd like or as often as your doctor recommends.
4Try applying steroid gels to your scalp. Steroid solutions and gels penetrate through the hair and into the scales. Common brand names are Cormax, Luxiq, Lidex, Temovate, Topicort. They are available at certain pharmacies, online, or through your doctor.Advertisement
- While topical therapy will control the great majority of psoriatic lesions, some patients will require more potent systemic therapy. People who have psoriasis involving more than 20% of the body surface or who are very uncomfortable should consider systemic therapy. The choices for plaque psoriasis are photo chemotherapy [PUVA] and methotrexate.