How to Find a Good Psoriasis Soap

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While there is no cure for psoriasis, certain soaps, bodywashes, and shampoos can help improve symptoms. Options range from drugstore brands to homemade recipes, with various choices and price points.

Psoriasis usually forms on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back, but it can also appear on your eyelids, lips, ears, skinfolds, hands, feet, and nails. Therefore, you may need more than one type of soap. Knowing how each type of soap works can help you choose products that meet your needs and support other treatments.

This article describes the best ingredients for people with psoriasis, which types of soaps contain these products, and which types to avoid.

choosing a soap

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How Does Psoriasis Soap Help Symptoms?

Psoriasis soap can be used as a treatment to help control the disease and relieve symptoms. It can also help prevent infections that may develop due to disrupting the normal skin barrier functions that occur from the abnormal cells.

Psoriasis soap made from non-drying, non-irritating ingredients can have the following effect on symptoms:

  • Slough off psoriasis plaques
  • Soothe itchiness
  • Replace skin moisture that may be lost due to other treatments or climate
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Prevent the skin from releasing chemicals that trigger inflammation

Beware of False Claims

It can be challenging to determine which psoriasis soap offers the best results. False promises and claims can make the process even more frustrating.

Be wary of psoriasis soaps that promise to clear your condition. Ideally, the right psoriasis soap will help you feel cleansed while working to moisturize and calm your skin, but it can't cure psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease. There is no cure for this disease.

Types of Psoriasis Soap

You have many options when choosing a psoriasis soap. These products come in formulations that include shampoos, bar soaps, and body washes for psoriasis with a wide range of ingredients.

Drugstore Products:

  • Coal tar soaps and shampoos: Crude coal tar soaps and shampoos contain thousands of ingredients. The ingredient is considered a safe and effective treatment for psoriasis. It is known to slow the hyperproduction of skin cells that causes skin plaques and reduce inflammation.
  • Colloidal oatmeal soaps, bodywashes, and shampoos: Colloidal oatmeal soaps, bodywashes, and shampoos have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that ease dryness, roughness, scaling, and itchiness.
  • Pine tar soaps: Pine tar has been used to treat skin diseases like psoriasis for thousands of years. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and antipruritic (anti-itch) properties.
  • Pyrithione zinc shampoo: Pyrithione zinc is an active ingredient in many dandruff shampoos that treat flaking and itching.
  • Salicylic acid soaps and bodywashes: Salicylic acid works as an exfoliating and peeling agent to dissolve skin flakes and scales. Washing with salicylic acid skin before you apply moisturizers or prescription topicals can allow these products to penetrate the skin more easily.
  • Keratolytics (scale lifters): Scale lifters help loosen and remove scales. Soaps with an active ingredient of lactic acid, urea, or phenol can deliver this benefit.
  • Shea butter soaps, bodywashes, and shampoos: Shea butter is rich in vitamin C. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease itchiness and other symptoms of psoriasis.

Natural Recipes:

Add one of the following to your bath to soothe itching and inflammation:

Add several drops of one of the following essential oils, which have anti-inflammatory properties, to your bath:

Consider making your own soap to have complete control over the ingredients. Beginners can find step-by-step guides for making soap without lye to get started.

Benefit-Specific Products:

  • Anti-dandruff shampoos: Common ingredients include pyrithione zinc, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, salicylic acid, and coal tar, which may relieve the itchiness of psoriasis of the scalp.
  • Liquid cleansers and beauty bars: These non-soap cleansers often include more moisturizing and hydrating effects than traditional bar soap or body wash. They are better suited for sensitive skin and your face. These products have a lower pH, closer to your skin's natural level. Products with a pH of 4 or lower can help improve the skin barrier, which is compromised in psoriasis.
  • Moisturizing soaps, bodywashes, and shampoos: Moisturizing soaps, bodywashes, and shampoos contain ingredients that help moisture penetrate your skin for optimal benefits. Carefully check moisturizing shampoos, which may be intended to moisturize or condition your hair rather than your scalp.
  • Sensitive skin soaps, bodywashes, and shampoos: Sensitive skin soaps, bodywashes, and shampoos are formulated for people who have frequent itching, burning, and stinging on their skin. Sensitive skin may or may not be related to another condition. These formulations are more likely to be free of dyes and alcohol-based products, but read the labels to know what's inside the product.

With so many options, your dermatologist can help you determine your best options for bathing and facial cleansing. Don't get discouraged if you don't achieve immediate results. Psoriasis soaps are just one component of a total psoriasis treatment plan. Your dermatologist can offer additional psoriasis therapies, like topical and oral medications, to help you achieve relief.

How to Do a Skin Patch Test

With so many types of psoriasis soap, finding the one that reduces your symptoms without aggravating your condition may take trial and error. The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends testing any new skincare product with a patch test before you apply it to a larger area. A patch test involves the following procedure:

  • Apply the product to a small patch of skin where it will stay in place without getting rubbed off, like the elbow bend. Apply the normal amount to a very small area.
  • Let the product remain on your skin during normal use.
  • Continue to test the product in the same spot twice daily for seven to 10 days.
  • If you don't have red, itchy, or swollen skin in the area after your test period, you can use the product.
  • If you develop symptoms of irritation or a skin reaction, gently wash off the product and do not use it again.

Harsh Soaps for Psoriasis

Some soaps contain harsh ingredients that can aggravate your psoriasis symptoms. Using the following types of soaps can make your condition worse:

  • Alcohol-based soaps: Alcohol is a common ingredient in many types of soap. It is too harsh for patients with psoriasis because alcohol can dry out your skin. Alcohol may be listed under ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol in soap.
  • Deodorant soaps: Deodorants mix antimicrobial agents to decrease the number of odor-causing bacteria and fragrances that cover any odors. These ingredients are likely to contain alcohol.
  • Dye-tinted soaps: Dyes may be used to harmlessly enhance the appearance of a specific soap, but they can be a source of irritation if you have psoriasis.
  • Essential oils: While some people with psoriasis find essential oils therapeutic, the National Psoriasis Foundation warns that these natural scents can also irritate skin.
  • Fragrant soaps: Fragrances are added to soaps, body washes, and shampoos to make them smell good. Chemical variations are likely to contain alcohol, which can cause skin irritation. Aim for fragrance-free products when choosing soaps and shampoos to avoid this problem.
  • Sulfate-based soaps: Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are sulfates, strong detergent substances made from sulfur-containing mineral salts. Sulfates create the foamy lather many people prefer in their shampoos and other cleaning products. They are common ingredients in liquid hand soap, shampoos, bodywash, bubble baths, and bath oils or salts. Sulfates are a type of surfactant. These substances work by stripping away oils and water from the skin's surface. While the effect can leave your hair and skin feeling fresh, it can dry out your skin, causing redness or itching and aggravating psoriasis symptoms.

Soap Ingredients 101

A true soap consists of a fat or oil mixed with water and alkali for the base. The oil comes from an animal or plant, while the alkali is a chemical called lye. The process of making soap is called saponification.

The most commonly used sources of oil are plant-based and include the following:

  • Palm
  • Coconut
  • Olive
  • Rice bran
  • Sunflower seed

Other ingredients used in soaps include:

  • Sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate: These are used to create a soapy lather.
  • Triclocarban: An antimicrobial product used in soap to reduce harmful bacteria and reduce the transmission of germs
  • Surfactants: These remove dirt and oil from the hair and skin.
  • Formaldehyde: Often used to prevent microorganisms and bacterial growth in a product.
  • Parabens: A family of preservatives used to extend the shelf life of soap by limiting bacteria and mold growth.

Read soap labels carefully. Ingredients vary based on the manufacturer and the purpose of the soap. Depending on the type of soap, other ingredients like alcohol, dyes, or perfumes may also be included.

Daily Skin Care for Psoriasis

Daily skincare for psoriasis should include strategies to replace lost moisture and relieve irritation. The following daily skin care regimen can help you feel fresh and clean without aggravating common psoriasis symptoms:

  • Take just one bath or shower daily.
  • Use warm water instead of hot water, which can dry your skin.
  • Limit your baths to 15 minutes and showers to five minutes. Don't soak your face for longer than necessary when face washing.
  • Use a gentle, moisture-rich soap or cleanser for sensitive skin.
  • Consider limiting soap to your armpits and groin while using plain water to shower your torso and limbs in the bath or shower. This limits the use of drying soaps on your skin.
  • Use your hands to wash your skin gently. Don't use a loofah, washcloth, or another abrasive cleansing device, which can irritate your skin and trigger a psoriasis flare.
  • Rinse off the cleanser or soap gently but thoroughly.
  • Blot your wet skin gently with a towel. Leave a little water on your skin, so it remains damp.
  • Within five minutes of finishing your shower, bath, or facial wash, gently apply a fragrance-free moisturizer to the entire cleansed areas of your skin. Apply a thick fragrance-free cream or ointment moisturizer before bedtime.


Psoriasis causes skin cells to reproduce faster than your body needs them. As a result, the extra cells build up on your skin to form thick, scaly patches, called skin plaques, that can itch and burn.

Certain soaps, bodywashes, and shampoos contain ingredients proven to relieve symptoms that can make it hard to live with psoriasis.

Since these products come in many formulations, finding the right soaps can take trial and error. Some patients use more than one type to address the needs of different areas of your body where the disease causes skin plaques to grow.

This autoimmune disease has no cure, but symptoms of psoriasis can be managed. Other prescribed and over-the-counter products can work with the right soaps to complete your treatment program.

19 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.
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By Anna Giorgi
Anna Zernone Giorgi is a writer who specializes in health and lifestyle topics. Her experience includes over 25 years of writing on health and wellness-related subjects for consumers and medical professionals, in addition to holding positions in healthcare communications.