Doctors say psoriasis, a common skin condition related to the problem of immune system, is incurable. It usually goes through cycles — there is flare-up (active) and remission (inactive) period. The good news it can go into remission for years. And if you’re lucky, it can also go into complete remission, when it’s never coming back again (inactive permanently).
This complete remission is not easy to get. But with a few appropriate strategies, you can make it more likely.
Here are some of the best ones:
Topical treatments that work
In case of mild to moderate psoriasis, topical treatments can help a lot to soothe the problem. There are many topical treatments to choose from. Which is the best one? This varies from patient to patient. But the following ones are worth a try.
Keeping your skin moist ‘alone’ is not a cure for psoriasis, but it is one of the best ways to prevent the flare-up. Psoriasis makes irritated, dry skin more likely — increasing your risk of having itching, soreness, redness, scaling, and soreness.
What kind of moisturizers to choose depends on how dry your skin is! But in most cases, ones in ointment are more recommended since they are thicker, and heavier, and more effective to lock in moistures than light lotions or creams. Also, choose products with free-fragrance label! If necessary, use moisturizing soaps.
The best time to gently pat on the ointment is a few minutes after your shower /bath so your skin’s locked in moisture more optimally. You may need to reapply after changing clothes, and use more on extreme temperatures (too hot or cold days).
Avoiding long hot showers is important, too. It’s much better to go with lukewarm water for shower, and limit it to 10 minutes or less!
Topical salicylic acid
Available both by prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter), salicylic acid acts as a peeling agent (also called keratolytic) to help reduce scaling and promote sloughing of dead skin cells. It is a common topical treatment for numerous different skin problems, including psoriasis.
To make it work more effectively, it’s often used with other topical treatments such as coal tar. While it can help remove the scales of psoriasis, it may cause skin irritation, temporary hair loss, and other discomforts if not properly used. Here are a few precautions to remember:
- Don’t use it over large areas of the skin to reduce the risk of absorbing too much salicylic acid into the body through the skin!
- Be extra careful when applying high amounts (strong) of salicylic acid, make sure to not left in contact with your skin for too long.
Topical coal tar
As the name suggests, it’s derived from coal. It has been used for treating psoriasis decades ago. For topical treatment, it’s available in numerous different formulations (e.g. ointment, lotion, shampoo, gel, cream, and even soap).
The way of how it works for psoriasis is not fully understood. But in general, it may have an effect on the mechanism of DNA synthesis, making keratinocyte proliferation decrease.
It’s not recommended for sensitive areas — such as flexural and genital areas — due to its irritant potential. Another drawback, it has poor patient acceptance because of cosmetic factors, such as; potent (strong) tar odor and staining of clothes.
- Don’t use it with UVA (ultraviolet A), because will make side effects more likely.
- Not recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- For higher concentration of coal tar formulation, use with prescription!
Creams containing vitamin D
People with psoriasis have abnormal life cycle of their skin cells in which cells grow and build up faster than normal, causing extra skin cells that appear in scales and red patches (they could be so itchy or even painful). Vitamin D may help slow this abnormal skin growth, driving the plaques of psoriasis to become less scaly and thinner. It might also stimulate immune cells to work more effectively, reducing the risk of psoriasis flare-up.
According to a study published in the journal JAMA dermatology 2010, vitamin D deficiency is quite common in people with psoriasis. Applying vitamin D creams topically may help soothe the disease. These include Calcitriol (Vectical) and Calcipotriene (Dovonex). To keep safe, use them with prescription! Calcitriol is more recommended (less irritating), though it’s more expensive.