Psoriasis treatment

Lesley Dobson / 19 November 2014

Most people with psoriasis use topical treatments, such as lotions that you smooth onto your skin. There isn’t a cure for psoriasis, but once you find the right treatment for you, it should improve the condition of your skin and make you feel more comfortable.

Your psoriasis may clear up after a course of treatment, but it can come back (relapse). The time between relapse can vary from a few weeks to some years.

Treatment can vary depending on its severity and type, and even where it is on your body.

Find out more about the different types of psoriasis


Emollients are a very common form of treatment. These are moisturisers – they soothe the skin, help with dryness and itching and also reduce the amount of scaling.

Emollients also make the cracked area of your skin softer, and less uncomfortable and help other topical (applied to your skin) treatments to be absorbed.

Emollients for baths and showers

When you are having a bath or washing you need to use emollients instead of soap. According to the British Association of Dermatologists you should use emollients often and use them generously. If you have very mild psoriasis, it may improve using only emollients.

Emollients with salicylic acid

Your doctor may suggest using emollients containing salicylic acid. This can help reduce severe scaling. However, it doesn’t suit everyone as it can irritate the skin around the scales.

Vitamin D creams

Creams or ointments containing vitamin d, such as calcipotriol and tacalcitol can also be beneficial. They slow down the production of excess skin cells, and are anti-inflammatories.

Find out more about vitamin D

Topical steroids

Other treatments that you put straight onto your skin include topical steroids. You may be able to use the weaker ones on your face or in the folds of your skin for short periods.

Your doctor may suggest stronger steroids for areas where the plaques are thicker, or on thicker skin, such as the palms of your hands and soles of your feet. These steroids can cause side effects, including thinning your skin, so your doctor should keep a close eye on you, and only prescribe them for short periods.

Treatment for moderate to severe psoriasis


Phototherapy uses light to treat psoriasis. UVB phototherapy uses light that slows down the rate at which you produce skin cells. This treatment is delivered in hospital, and you may need to have it two or three times a week for up to two months.

PUVB tends to be used when you have severe psoriasis and other treatments haven’t worked. It involves taking a tablet containing psoralen (or applying this to your skin). This substance increases your skin’s sensitivity to light. You then have Ultraviolet A light shone at your skin, (this goes deeper into your skin than ultraviolet B light).

Systemic treatments

If you do have severe psoriasis, your doctor or specialist may suggest treating you with tablets, such as acitretin, ciclosporin, or methotrexate, which are known to help control severe cases of this condition. There is a risk of side effects with these tablets, which your specialist will discuss with you.


There are some relatively new treatments, given by injection, or through a drip, known as biologics injections. These are only available for people who have very severe psoriasis, who can’t take, or haven’t had any success with other treatments.

Useful websites

British Association of Dermatologists -

Psoriasis Association UK -

Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance -
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