Buying Over-the-Counter Psoriasis Treatments

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Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that includes symptoms such as flaking, inflammation, and itchy red patches of skin covered with silver-colored scales. The actual cause of psoriasis is not known, but it is associated with family history and genetics. Psoriasis can affect people of all ages, but it usually appears in youth to middle age.

Psoriasis symptom relief

Although a board-certified dermatologist can prescribe medication and help customize a skin care regimen for your needs, there are many over-the-counter (OTC) products or treatments that you can buy without a prescription. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) indicates that these products work best for people who have very mild psoriasis, but moisturizers can benefit anyone who has psoriasis.

Coal tar or hydrocortisone is the active ingredient that treats psoriasis in many OTC treatments. Some other products contain other active ingredients that is not yet proven to be safe and also work well.

Here’s a few OTC psoriasis treatments listed by the AAD that are available without a prescription:

Coal tar
Many psoriasis treatments – both prescription and OTC products – contain this active ingredient, which can do the following:

  • Lessen itching and flaking
  • Reduce redness, swelling, and scaling
  • Slow the rapidly growing skin cells

Hydrocortisone creams and ointments

Mild hydrocortisone creams contain corticosteroid, another main active ingredient that works well for a few small patches of psoriasis. It can reduce the itch and decrease inflammation. You’ll likely to need a prescription corticosteroid to treat more than a few small patches. An ointment will likely feel better on cracked or bleeding skin because it tends to be more soothing and less irritating than cream.

Additional products that tend to work best on itchy psoriasis contain calamine, camphor or menthol. The AAD warns that if you decide to use an anti-itch product, beware that it can irritate and dry your skin. You can prevent this by using moisturizer along with your anti-itch product

Moisturizer
This may help anyone who has psoriasis because it helps to seal water in the skin, relieve dryness and heal the skin. According to the AAD, dermatologists recommend applying moisturizer once a day and at times when your skin is really dry. When shopping for a moisturizer, make sure it is each of the following:

  • Heavy cream, ointment, or oil rather than a lotion
  • Fragrance-free product
  • Product that you like and will use

Scale softeners
Salicylic acid is another active ingredient found in OTC products and prescription medicines, especially for scalp psoriasis. It helps to reduce swelling and remove and soften scale. Other medicine that you apply to your skin work better when the scale is removed.

The AAD suggests using products containing salicylic acid as indicated in the instructions because too much can worsen psoriasis. Other active ingredients such as lactic acid and urea can soften and remove scale too.

Alternative treatments

Although many complementary and alternative psoriasis treatments are also on the market, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate these products. It is unknown how well the treatments work and whether they’re safe.

Although there is no cure for psoriasis, it responds well to topical treatments. It can be difficult to know what over-the-counter psoriasis treatment to use. If products you use do not achieve desired results, you may want to check with a dermatologist or skin care professional.

Carmichael’s Retail Pharmacies in Crowley and Lake Charles offer a variety of FDA approved over-the-counter creams and ointments. Carmichael’s Cashway Retail Pharmacy in Crowley has a full-service pharmacy to fill medications prescribed by your dermatologist. Our compounding pharmacy, also located in Crowley, can compound creams and dermatological treatments prescribed by a dermatologist.

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