The Best Soaps For Your Psoriasis
Last updated: January 2020
We all use some type of soap on our skin (I hope) but if you have psoriasis, are you using the right type of soap? It may seem like an obvious suggestion to up your soap game but it's something I wasn't doing until recently.
While medications and creams could help without you having to change your soap, why not start from the bottom up when trying to treat your psoriasis.
My experience with soap and psoriasis
People with psoriasis are often dealing with all sorts of symptoms. Cracked and irritated skin, itchiness, flakiness, just overall unpleasant symptoms. If you're new to the psoriasis game, spoiler alert: there is no cure (yet). There are some things that you can do to lessen symptoms and alleviate discomfort.
One of those things, for me, was keeping it simple and starting with how and what I use to bathe myself from my head down to my tippy toes.
Soaps to help alleviate psoriasis symptoms
If you research what soaps are best for psoriasis, tar soap will most likely be the most prevalent. You can typically find tar as a bar of soap but it also comes in non-soap options such as creams, oils, and shampoos.
There are also additional soaps that can alleviate symptoms. Let's go through them all now:
Coal tar soap
The name is pretty self-explanatory. It even smells like you might expect tar to smell like (yuck). But the benefits outweigh the gross smell, for me at least.
Coal tar soap has been used to treat psoriasis since the 1900s. It's still recommended as a treatment option. I think that says something about its effectiveness. Over the counter, tar soaps can contain a lot of ingredients but one of the most important ingredients, in regards to psoriasis, is carbazole. According to research reported by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), carbazole prevents inflammation, which means fewer flakes and flare-ups.
Coal tar is used to help the skin shed dead cells from its top layer and slow down the growth of skin cells. Coal tar has definitely been the go-to soap for me when I'm experiencing a flare-up. You get used to the smell.
Pine tar soap
Pine tar soap is made from pine tree resins and gives off a strong, but possibly more pleasant, pine scent. And while I would rather smell like a Christmas tree than my driveway, pine tar soap isn't as popular of an option as coal tar.
But it is an option, research shows that pine tar can slow the over-production of scaly skin cells, relieve itching, and fights inflammation.
Oatmeal baths and soaps
If you've ever had the chickenpox, it's likely that your parents submerged you in this stuff. Which makes sense since oatmeal is known to relieve itchiness and redness on the skin.
Yes, your go-to for sunburned skin can also help with some of your psoriasis symptoms. Just like sunburns, aloe vera could help ease some discomfort as well as moisturize your skin.
Tea tree essential oil
Tea tree oil has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal properties. You can find tea tree oil soaps and creams OTC. Due to all of the herbal remedy properties listed above, this oil can help to alleviate inflammation.
Otherwise known as the Oregon grape, is a herb found in many psoriasis soaps. Research suggests it is an effective treatment for mild to moderate psoriasis.
Typically prescribed by a physician, this medication helps dissolve surface skin cells, (which is nice because we know how those can build up).
Soap tips and tricks for psoriasis
Stronger exfoliating soaps may be considered keratolytic. A keratolytic helps remove psoriasis scales. These are great because once you remove the skin, you can allow your topical medications (if you are using any) to penetrate deeper.
A few other things to remember:
- As with anything that you are trying to treat your psoriasis, please consult your doctor prior to use.
- If you are trying something for the first time and are unsure, try a test patch. I also recommend, with coal tar, looking for a soap with a low dose of coal.
- Be careful when scrubbing. Don't use any abrasive cloths or sponges on your already sensitive skin. You want to treat your skin, not tear it.
- Use warm water, not hot, in your shower or bath.
What other soaps have you found effective for your psoriasis?
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?