Learn more about treating psoriasis at home.

Psoriasis is an immune condition that causes your body to overproduce skin cells, resulting in patches of dry, flaky, coarse, red, and scaly skin.

These skin cells create plaques that seem to be most common on the elbows, knees, hands, feet, lower back, and scalp. It can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, but for mild psoriasis, you can try the following home remedies to reduce your plaques and prevent flare-ups in the future.

RELATED: What Is Psoriasis?

1. Choose the right skin care products

Through trial and error, you should be able to determine which soaps, lotions, and shampoos moisturize your skin without irritating it. Start with mild products that are fragrance-free, instead of stronger soaps. Make sure that your product does not have alcohol as one of the ingredients, and remember, creams and ointments are more moisturizing than lotions.

2. Limit alcohol consumption

More than one alcoholic drink per day for women or two drinks for men can cause your psoriasis to worsen. Choose non-alcoholic beverages, especially water, which will hydrate your skin.

3. Don’t scratch or pick at your skin

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Causing trauma to the skin can stimulate the production of more skin cells, leading to more severe psoriasis plaques where the injury occurs. If your skin is itching, apply a moisturizer rather than scratching. Also, carefully trim nails and avoid biting them or damaging the cuticles, which can result in plaques around the nails.

4. Take a daily bath

A warm (not too hot or too cold) bath can replenish the moisture in your skin, as long as you thoroughly moisturize within three to four minutes of getting out of the bath. It can also soothe itching by replacing moisture.

5. Avoid cold temperatures and too much sun exposure

Cold weather dries out your skin and can cause psoriasis to flare, as will excessive exposure to the sun. Brief exposure to the sun may help reduce symptoms; however, this should be attempted with the advice of your dermatologist.

6. Try occlusive therapy

After applying a moisturizer, you can cover the plaque with plastic wrap, cellophane, or a special dressing. This will encourage the moisturizer to penetrate deeply into the skin. It also forms an exterior protective layer that also reduces psoriasis plaques.

7. Use over-the-counter psoriasis medications

For your mild psoriasis symptoms, you can purchase items like hydrocortisone cream, lotion with salicylic acid and coal tar.

  • Salicylic acid encourages your skin to shed its outermost layer of skin, which can reduce the appearance and feel of your psoriasis plaques.
  • Coal tar can slow the regrowth of these skin cells.
  • Hydrocortisone cream reduces the inflammation in the plaque.

If these home remedies for mild psoriasis don’t provide the relief you need, it’s a good idea to consult with your dermatologist about your symptoms. He or she can provide you with a more thorough assessment of your symptoms and may suggest a combination of home remedies and prescription medications to help control your psoriasis. You can schedule an appointment with one of UPMC’s expert dermatologists by calling at 412-647-4200 or by requesting an appointment online or consulting with UPMC eDermatology.

About Dermatology

The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is a comprehensive dermatologic laser facility, offering a full range of cosmetic services and procedures. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Find a dermatology provider near you.