You Down with OTC? (Yeah, You Know Me!)
Did you grow up in the 90s? No? Well, you probably think that this article has a ridiculous title. If you did grow up in the 90s, well then you now have a catchy hit single stuck in your head! (sorry, not sorry) In any case, one thing all people with psoriasis can relate to, regardless of age, is over-the-counter (OTC) products. We are all familiar with the plethora of moisturizers and creams that tout to make our skin silky and smooth. In fact, many of you reading this probably were offered some body butter (again, an homage to the 90s) by a well-meaning friend or family member just this week. I know I get offers at least a couple times a week. Thanks, but key lime scented goo actually sets my skin on fire.
Body butter aside, I find moisturizers to be a necessity in my bathroom cabinet. Regardless if I have active plaques or not, my skin is always dry. I think there is a common misconception that if you are clear, then all your symptoms go away. I am here to set the record straight that, in my experience, is absolutely untrue. I still have parched skin and phantom itching daily.
My favorite moisturizer is a water-activated hydration cream. This dandy OTC product works by holding in your natural oils and moisture. I simply put it on after my shower when my skin is still damp, and then get on with my day. I don’t carry a purse or bag, so I need something that will last all day. I don’t have the time to stop for moisturizer breaks.
The other staple moisturizer I use is coconut oil. It may seem weird to have this product under moisturizer, since it is simply a natural oil, but it works just like a moisturizer for me. I use this the oil mostly on my face and sensitive areas. My ears have always been a hotbed for plaques and thick flakes, inside and out, and coconut oil works great in these areas because it is OK to put in internal places.
During my ten-year flare, my favorite relief was a warm bath with mineral oil. I am not a tiny guy, so I usually had to marinate myself in my crammed standard size bathtub, but it was worth it. Mineral oil actually creates a protective barrier on your skin. It holds moisture in, but even better, it keeps harmful external irritants out. Bonus: it also can help your skin heal if you have cracks and open sores. I would get out of that bath feeling like I had a suit of armor on!
My favorite thing about taking a mineral bath is how easy it is. I simply just add a cap of the oil to my running bath water and ta-da! Plus, if you want to relieve emotional symptoms along with the physical symptoms, light a few lavender or eucalyptus candles for stress-relief. (Don’t judge—guys like candles too!) The only thing I must warn you about is to use extreme caution when exiting the tub. Mineral oil is great at turning your bathtub into a dangerous slip-and-slide. I always wash it out with soap and hot water after.
I love chapstick. My wife, however, does not love me having chapstick. I always seem to forget it in my pocket and run it through the washer and dryer. Oops! But, when used thoughtfully, it can really be a life saver. I not only use it on my lips, but I also see it as a portable moisturizer for other parts of my body. Many a time I have been thankful to have that little tube in my pocket so I can have easy access to alleviating a crack in the creases of my nose or in between my fingers.
There is no denying that there is a huge selection of OTC products available out there. Similar to conventional treatments, what works for one person, may be awful or inconvenient for another. My only advice is that when you find an OTC product you love, hoard that stuff like it’s going out of style. There is no greater heartbreak than watching your favorite lotion or cream be discontinued.
Does your psoriasis skin feel out of control? How are you managing?