Over-the-Counter Psoriasis Treatments

A prescription isn’t required for pharmacy psoriasis purchases

A prescription is not always needed to treat psoriasis. Some people with this medical condition can treat it at home with over-the-counter (OTC) options available from a pharmacy.

Some options may include the following:

  • Lotions
  • Face creams
  • Shampoo

While these options may be enough for people with mild psoriasis, those with moderate to severe symptoms may need prescription treatment.

This article looks at the types of psoriasis and their various treatment options, OTC products that may help, and ingredients to avoid.

Woman in the bathroom applying lotion to her face.


What Types of Psoriasis Respond Best to Topical Treatment?

Not all people with psoriasis experience the same symptoms, and treatment options may vary based on your type of psoriasis.

Types of psoriasis and their treatment include:

  • Erythrodermic psoriasis: Treatment options may include topical and oral options and biologics (medication derived from living organisms). This is a severe form of psoriasis, and it's essential to seek medical care if you suspect you have it.
  • Guttate psoriasis: Treatment may include oral options and phototherapy (controlled ultraviolet, or UV, light exposure) rather than topical options.
  • Inverse psoriasis: Treatment may include topical options and systemic medications (medication that works throughout your body).
  • Plaque psoriasis: Treatment may include topical and oral options, biologics, and phototherapy.
  • Pustular psoriasis: Treatment may include topical and oral options, biologics, and phototherapy.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis involves skin rashes, swollen, painful joints, or both. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen) can help with joint symptoms. OTC topical treatments can help with skin symptoms.

Pharmacy OTC Psoriasis Treatment

Several OTC treatment options for psoriasis available at pharmacies include:

  • Coal tar helps relieve itching from plaque psoriasis and scales, especially on the scalp, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet.
  • Corticosteroid cream helps decrease redness and swelling by calming the body's inflammatory response.
  • Moisturizer helps to relieve psoriasis itching and flaking in mild and severe cases.
  • Scale softener can help soften thick patches or psoriasis scales.

Some of these products can quickly alleviate symptoms when applied to the skin (topically), but the relief may be temporary. While treatments can help people with psoriasis be more comfortable, they may not completely treat psoriasis.

A Word of Caution

It is important to be cautious of over-the-counter treatments that claim to cure psoriasis, as it's a chronic condition with no cure. Treatments can, however, improve symptoms.

Ingredients to Avoid on OTC Psoriasis Treatment Labels

Some products available over the counter can bring relief to psoriasis symptoms. However, certain ingredients in the same products may lead to increased skin dryness and irritation, which can worsen psoriasis symptoms.

Some ingredients to avoid are:

Side Effects to Look Out For

Just because a product is available without a prescription does not mean it is safe for every person or every medical condition. Some products can lead to an allergic reaction or adverse effects, even if they are natural treatments.

Additionally, it is important to follow each label's directions or consult a healthcare professional to ensure proper use. Some possible side effects of over-the-counter psoriasis treatments include skin irritation, itching, light sensitivity, and redness.

Some possible signs of allergic reaction to topical treatments include:

How to Get Rid of Psoriasis

Some people with psoriasis, especially those with mild cases, may be able to effectively treat their condition at home. However, it's important to see a healthcare provider to be properly diagnosed and to determine an appropriate and effective treatment plan.

If you and your healthcare provider agree on OTC treatments or home remedies, it can help to take a whole-body approach. For example, soaking in a warm bath with Dead Sea salts or oats, exercising, and employing stress relief strategies may help.

In addition to trying home remedies, lifestyle changes, and OTC medications, people with more severe cases of psoriasis (or mild cases that don't go away) may need prescription medication from their healthcare provider. Others with more severe symptoms may benefit from seeing a dermatologist.


Psoriasis can show up in different forms and range from mild to severe. While all types of psoriasis may benefit from over-the-counter treatments, such as moisturizers, only mild cases are generally treated with these options alone.

Additionally, while the treatments may immediately relieve symptoms, not all of them get rid of the condition. Moderate to severe psoriasis, and even some cases of mild psoriasis, may need to be treated with prescription medications, with or without OTC treatments.

21 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Psoriasis: medications and light therapies.

  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. What psoriasis treatments are available without a prescription?

  3. National Psoriasis Foundation. Locations and types.

  4. National Psoriasis Foundation. Erythrodermic psoriasis.

  5. National Psoriasis Foundation. Guttate psoriasis.

  6. National Psoriasis Foundation. Inverse psoriasis.

  7. National Psoriasis Foundation. Plaque psoriasis.

  8. National Psoriasis Foundation. Pustular psoriasis.

  9. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Psoriatic arthritis.

  10. National Psoriasis Foundation. NSAIDs.

  11. Arthritis Foundation. Treatment options for psoriatic arthritis.

  12. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Psoriasis treatment: coal tar.

  13. National Psoriasis Foundation. Steroids.

  14. National Psoriasis Foundation. Must-have lotions.

  15. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Scalp psoriasis: shampoos, scale softeners, and other treatments.

  16. National Psoriasis Foundation. About psoriasis.

  17. National Psoriasis Foundation. Over-the-counter topicals.

  18. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Understanding over-the-counter medicines.

  19. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Skin allergy.

  20. National Psoriasis Foundation. Integrative approaches to care.

  21. National Health Service (UK). Psoriasis treatment.

By Ashley Olivine, Ph.D., MPH
Dr. Ashley Olivine is a health psychologist and public health professional with over a decade of experience serving clients in the clinical setting and private practice. She has also researched a wide variety psychology and public health topics such as the management of health risk factors, chronic illness, maternal and child wellbeing, and child development.