How to Soften Plaque Psoriasis Scales

Psoriasis is a skin condition that involves an itchy, scaly rash. It is caused by the immune system attacking healthy cells, which speeds up skin cell growth and leads to a buildup of dead cells on the surface of your skin.

Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis, with up to 90% of people with psoriasis experiencing this type. It involves raised skin that grows in patches, called plaques, sometimes with scales on top of the patches.

Learn about plaque psoriasis, how to soften and remove plaques, and treatment options.

Psoriasis on the elbow - red scaly skin.

Suze777 / Getty Images

Is It Safe to Remove Psoriasis Plaques?

Many people with psoriasis choose to treat the condition at home because it is an affordable option. When done carefully and gently, it is safe to remove psoriasis plaques. However, removing them can lead to more irritation and bleeding. For this reason, it is important to seek medical advice to learn how to remove the plaques without causing more damage.

Products That Help Soften Psoriasis Plaques

Psoriasis plaques are not removed by scratching aggressively or picking them off with fingernails. Instead, products are used topically on the affected areas of skin.

Some products that can remove psoriasis plaques include:

  • Lactic acid: This product is a gentle alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that exfoliates the skin and removes psoriasis plaques.
  • Salicylic acid: This product removes the top layer of skin, and, in the case of psoriasis, the plaques.
  • Moisturizers, creams, ointments, and oils: These options do not remove the plaques, but they do make them less visible and provide relief from itching and discomfort.

Lactic Acid vs. Salicylic Acid for Psoriasis Plaques

Lactic acid plaques tend to be more gentle, while salicylic acid products tend to be more effective. Lactic acid products should be used on more sensitive areas or tried first, while salicylic acid products can be tried if lactic acid is not effective enough.

Anyone unsure of what products to use to help soften and remove psoriasis plaques should seek the support of a healthcare professional, such as a primary care practitioner or a dermatologist.

How to Remove Psoriasis Plaques

There is some confusion about how to remove psoriasis plaques. Because pulling plaques off can make the condition worse, this method is not advised. Instead, plaques should be removed with products such as lactic acid or salicylic acid. These products exfoliate, soften, and loosen the scales. Plaques can then be removed by gently brushing off the top layer.

Tips for Removing Psoriasis Plaques

  • Use products with lactic acid or salicylic acid to remove the top layer.
  • Gently brush off scales after they have been loosened with products.
  • Moisturize to relieve symptoms and prevent them from being seen.
  • Be gentle and avoid scratching or picking at the plaques.
  • Consult a healthcare professional to learn how to remove them safely.

Psoriasis Treatment

Products to help soften and gently exfoliate psoriasis plaques to remove scales are not the only treatment options for this condition. In some cases, medications and other treatments are needed, especially when the symptoms are more severe.

Other treatment options for plaque psoriasis include:

  • Phototherapy: This treatment uses ultraviolet light to slow skin cell production.
  • Other topical options: Medications such as corticosteroids or Dovonex (calcipotriene) applied to the skin work by decreasing swelling called inflammation and relieving itching.
  • Systemic options: Oral medications such as Trexall (methotrexate) reduce swelling and inflammation and slow skin cell production, while biologics work by targeting cells that are overactive.
  • Complementary and integrative medicine: Lifestyle and behavioral changes regarding nutrition, physical activity, and stress relief can help along with other treatment options.


Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriasis, which is a skin condition involving an itchy, raised rash with scales. This condition develops when the immune system attacks healthy cells and speeds up the growth of skin cells. Treatment options are available, and it is possible for people with plaque psoriasis to heal and experience clear skin.

Products can help to soften plaques, and then the scales can be carefully removed by exfoliating the area. This must be done gently because too much irritation can make the rash worse. A healthcare professional, such as a primary care provider or dermatologist, can help with learning how to remove psoriasis plaques, and with other treatment options when needed.

A Word From Verywell

Suspecting, being diagnosed with, and living with plaque psoriasis can be uncomfortable and challenging, especially when symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily life. If you or someone you know is experiencing plaque psoriasis, know that help is available. Reach out to a healthcare professional such as a primary care provider or a dermatologist for support. They can help with treatment options and teach you how to soften and remove plaques safely, without causing more irritation and slowing the healing process.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should you exfoliate psoriasis plaques?

    Psoriasis plaques can be exfoliated. This helps to remove the skin cells that pile up due to faster cell growth. It is best to use a natural product without fragrances, dyes, or harsh ingredients.

  • Are Epsom salts good for psoriasis?

    Epsom salts are sometimes used as a home remedy for psoriasis. Taking warm baths with Epsom salts can help to relieve itching, soothe the affected areas, and remove the skin cells that pile up due to faster cell growth.

  • Does picking psoriasis make it spread?

    No, picking psoriasis does not make it spread to other areas. However, picking psoriasis scales can make the rash worse, slow the process of healing, and open the skin which increases the risk of infection.

8 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. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What is psoriasis?.

  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Psoriasis: Signs and symptoms.

  3. Nwabudike LC. Palmar and plantar psoriasis and homeopathy–Case reports. Our Dermatology Online. 2017;8(1):66.

  4. Luba KM, Stulberg DL. Chronic plaque psoriasisAm Fam Physician. 2006;73(4):636-644.

  5. American Academy of Dermatology Association. How can I remove a psoriasis scale from my skin?.

  6. American Academy of Dermatology. 8 ways to relieve itchy psoriasis.

  7. El-Gammal A, Nardo VD, Daaboul F, et al. Is there a place for local natural treatment of psoriasis? Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2018;6(5):839-842. doi:10.3889/oamjms.2018.106

  8. National Psoriasis Foundation. Treatment and care.

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.