Topical treatments for psoriasis

woman scratching psoriasis spot on arm

What topical treatments are out there?

There is a wide range of topical treatments available. They include creams, gels and lotions you apply directly to your skin.1,2 You can buy many of these from your pharmacist.3 However, consult with your doctor about what treatments they recommend.

As well as treatments recommended by your doctor, it is important to apply a moisturising cream (emollient) to your skin every day. Using a moisturising soap and applying moisturising cream straight after washing will help lock moisture into your skin. This reduces redness and itching and helps your skin heal.3

Using topical treatments for psoriasis

Topical treatments can take up to an hour to apply and be absorbed. They can also be greasy and leave stains on your clothing.4 However positive you try and be, there may be times when your condition makes you feel stressed2 or even depressed.1 When you feel like this applying your cream may be the last thing you feel like doing. However, it is important you use your treatments correctly to help relieve your symptoms.4

Many people with psoriasis don’t use their treatment as discussed with their doctor.4

Topical treatments may be enough to treat your psoriasis.5 So it is important to use them properly.4

To get the best results:

  1. Always follow your doctor’s advice
  2. Use moisturising cream or an emollient every day3 in between your treatments
  3. Try to apply the treatment directly to your psoriasis, avoiding the surrounding skin6
  4. Apply the right amount.4 If you aren’t sure, ask your doctor or nurse
  5. Make it part of your daily routine by applying it at the same time each day

Remember everyone is different. A treatment that works for one person may not work for you.7 Some treatments may work faster than others.8 Talk to your doctor about which treatment is best for you.

Other psoriasis treatments

If you have psoriasis for which topical treatments aren’t enough, there are lots of other treatments available.1 You may also be prescribed a topical treatment to use at the same time.1,2

No matter which treatment you are prescribed, the following advice always applies:

  1. Read the patient information leaflet that comes with your treatment
  2. Use the treatment in exactly the right amount and for the full length of time prescribed by your doctor
  3. Discuss when you should stop using the treatment with your doctor. Suddenly stopping some medicines can make your psoriasis worse6

If you do happen to miss the treatment, refer to the patient information leaflet for that specific treatment for instructions on what to do next.

Key treatment questions you may want to ask a healthcare professional

If you are unsure about how to use your treatment, it may be helpful to write out a list of questions to ask your doctor, for example:

  1. How should I apply my treatment?
  2. How often do I need to use my treatment?
  3. How does it work?
  4. How soon might I see results?
  5. How long will I need to use my treatment?
  6. What are the possible side effects of my treatment?
  7. Can I combine this treatment with another medication?

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

UK/IE MAT- 26894 Date of prep: July 2019

  1. (accessed July 2019).
  2. NICE guidelines. Psoriasis assessment and management. 2012.
  3. (accessed July 2019).
  4. (accessed July 2019).
  5. MP Schon and WH Boehncke. N Engl J Med 2005; 352(18): 1899-912.
  6. (accessed July 2019).
  7. (accessed July 2019).
  8. (accessed July 2019).

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