5 Skincare Tips for Psoriasis on the Face

Psoriasis can crop up pretty much anywhere. While its itchy plaques most commonly occur on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back, about half of all psoriasis sufferers experience outbreaks on the one place that’s hardest to hide—the face. Not only is covering it difficult but treating it can be, too. The skin on our face, neck, and ears is thinner and more sensitive than the skin on the rest of our bodies. There are some prescription options like steroids and scale removers that can be harsh and may have side effects. So, what if we’re looking for something a little gentler to care for our skin? We spoke to dermatologists who gave us some advice for at-home remedies for psoriasis on the face.

Use Shampoo

An unexpected piece of advice comes from Nava Greenfield, M.D., a New York City dermatologist who also serves as adviser to Belli Skincare. “A shampoo like Neutrogena T/Sal or T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo, that is formulated to treat psoriasis on the scalp, can be used as a face wash to gently mitigate the plaques,” Greenfield suggests. “Simply wet skin and form a lather with the shampoo, then apply to face and leave on for five minutes and rinse off.” The T/Sal shampoo contains salicylic acid, which is an exfoliant that thins the outer layer of the skin wherever it’s applied, causing it to loosen and shed. T/Gel contains coal tar, which can reduce inflammation and slow the growth of new skin cells, which is rapid during a flare-up.

Add Moisture

Moisturizer is essential and anything that’s marked “lightweight” probably isn’t going to cut it. “Moisture-rich creams will keep your skin supple and hydrated because they seal the dermis to keep water from escaping the face,” says Debra Jaliman, M.D., author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist. Apply your moisturizer daily, or even twice daily, as needed, during outbreaks. She also suggests running a humidifier in your bedroom when you sleep at night to keep the air moist and prevent your skin from drying out.

Try Plant-Based Remedies

Common post-sunburn soother, aloe vera gel, can be a great option for those dry scaly patches on the forehead, ears, neck, and hairline, according to Steven Victor, M.D., medical director at Victor Regenerative Medicine Centers in New York City. “It not only helps soften and relieve the scales, but also the redness associated with it,” says Victor.

Victor also says a number of other herbs, when taken orally, and foods may also help to reduce flare-ups—but know that studies on these have been mostly inconclusive. These include omega-3 fatty acids (found in foods such as nuts, seeds, and fish); turmeric, for its anti-inflammatory properties; and Oregon Grape, for its antimicrobial properties. Talk to your doctor to decide whether any of these might be helpful for you and to find the right dosage.

Take a Salty Soak

A warm (not hot) bath with Epsom salts, combined with colloidal oatmeal or mineral or olive oil, can heal and soothe psoriasis outbreaks on the body. And the same combos can also ease an itchy and irritated face, says Victor. “You’ll find a lot of relief when you gently wash your face with the saltwater,” he says. Be sure to avoid getting it in your eyes and to follow it up with a heavy-duty moisturizer.

Turn Toward the Sun

“Ultraviolet B rays, found in natural sunlight, penetrate the skin and slow down the growth of affected cells,” says Jaliman. That’s why UVB phototherapy is a common treatment for people with psoriasis. Phototherapy is best administered by a healthcare professional. If you choose to go the natural sunlight route, be sure to protect your face with a daily sunscreen of SPF 50 or higher, and to only expose yourself in small doses (10 minutes a day should suffice), so as not to damage sensitive skin.