Why Some Topical Psoriasis Creams Just Don't Work

Published: 16th December 2009
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The irritating skin patches caused by psoriasis can sometimes be controlled with over the counter topical psoriasis creams, especially in cases of mild psoriasis.
Psoriasis that is more severe may require prescription creams along with other forms of treatment.

Two ingredients that are common in psoriasis creams are tar and salicylic acid. Both of these are approved by the FDA to treat this skin condition.

Salicylic acid treats psoriasis by causing the top layer of skin to peel off of the psoriasis skin patches. Salicylic cream works to soften the scaly skin so it lifts away.

This psoriasis cream has the potential to cause complications if it is used too long or over large parts of the body. For one thing, it can damage hair shafts and cause temporary hair loss in the area. Used excessively, salicylic acid can cause skin irritation. It is often combined with other medications like coal tar or corticosteroids in order to increase the effectiveness of the cream.

Coal tar is a long time component of psoriasis cream. Coal tar is the byproduct of petroleum products and coal. It works to help reduce itching, scaling, and inflammation. There appear to be few side effects with coal tar use except that it has a strong odor and can stain clothing and bedding.

The potency of coal tar products vary according to the concentration. Over the counter psoriasis creams usually contain between 0.5 to 5 percent coal tar. When strong concentrations are used, the skin can become overly dry. This can be prevented by applying a moisturizer before applying the coal tar.

Using coal tar might also cause the skin to be more sensitive to the sun so it is a good idea to wash the tar off and apply sunscreen before going into the sun.

Better psoriasis creams contain other ingredients which act to soothe and moisturize the skin. These include jojoba, zinc, capsaicin, and aloe vera. If your psoriasis does not respond well to over the counter psoriasis creams, be sure to talk to your doctor.

Prescription creams are also available that contain other medications as well as higher concentrations of coal tar and salicylic acid that is not available otherwise.

When using over the counter prescription creams, be sure to follow the label directions carefully to reduce your risk of complications. For example, products with salicylic acid should not be used over large areas of skin or the body can absorb too much of the medication.

Also, do not combine over the counter creams with prescription creams without your doctor's knowledge as this can cause skin irritation or the medications could interact with each other in a negative way.

It is a good idea to test a new psoriasis cream on a small portion of your skin for a couple of days before using it over large areas of your body. This will allow you to test for your reaction to the cream and to discover if you have allergies to any of the ingredients.

Always note the percentage of the active ingredient whether it be salicylic acid or coal tar as psoriasis creams that have higher concentrations may be more irritating than you are used to.

Over the counter psoriasis creams can be easily purchased online as well as at drug stores and many grocery stores. They are affordable and safe to use if application directions are followed. They are milder than prescription creams and are a first choice for relief from the itching and scaling that is associated with this skin condition.

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