bars of soap

How to Find Soaps and Cleansers That Won’t Irritate Your Psoriasis

By Jené Luciani
Reviewed by Allison Truong, M.D.
January 19, 2024

Soap and cleanser are important for removing germs and caring for your skin. But what if typical hand, face, and body washes are also irritating your psoriasis?

“Patients with psoriasis have unique skincare needs and, believe it or not, they shouldn’t just be looking for products designed for sensitive skin,” says Adam Mamelak, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas. Locking in moisture is key, especially with frequent handwashing, so it’s also important to look for products intended for dry skin, he says.

Here, we talked to dermatologists to find out the full scoop on what to look for in hand, body, and face washes to keep your skin clean and moisturized.

Hand Soap

When it comes to hand soap, check the label. If it’s free of fragrances and dyes, it’s less likely to be irritating to people with psoriasis, says Debra Jaliman, M.D,. a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and author of Skin Rules. She recommends Free & Clear Liquid Cleanser, which can be used on not only the hands, but on the rest of the body, too.

After washing your hands, be sure to use a moisturizing hand cream each and every time, says Jaliman. She recommends CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, because it’s fragrance-free and contains three different types of ceramides, which are waxy lipid molecules that help protect the skin barrier and lock in moisture.

Face Wash

Psoriasis commonly appears on the forehead and around the ears, especially in the winter months. So, your facial products should also contain moisturizing ingredients. Look for hyaluronic acid, ceramides, vitamin B compounds, and glycerin.

“Hyaluronic acid is a component naturally found in the skin that binds water and delivers significant hydration to the skin,” explains Mamelak.

For washing your face, Mamelak recommends CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser and Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, which are both nonirritating and won’t strip skin of moisture.

If you’re having a psoriasis flare, look for a cleanser that contains salicylic or lactic acid (often used to treat acne). Those acids are keratolytic agents that can break up scaly skin cells and help exfoliate the skin’s surface. And, of course, keep the area moisturized.

Body Wash

In the shower or bath, avoid typical bar soaps, since most of them are too drying for psoriatic skin, says Jaliman. Just like for the face and hands, she says to look for a body wash that’s gentle and hydrating, such as Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash or Dove Sensitive Skin Body Wash.

In addition to choosing gentle, moisturizing soaps, there are other steps you can take to reduce irritation. These include keeping water temperature lukewarm (not hot), not scrubbing too hard with a wash cloth, and using moisturizing cream regularly after bathing/showering. Some people also find it helps to run a humidifier at home to keep skin hydrated.

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