Keeping your skin hydrated

Keeping your skin moist and lubricated can help prevent dry skin and itching. And by keeping your skin well-moisturized, you may also be less likely to scratch.

When choosing a new non-prescription skin product such as a moisturizer, ointment, or lotion, talk to your doctor, dermatologist, or pharmacist first. These products can help keep moisture in the skin, but some contain ingredients that could worsen your symptoms. Avoid creams and lotions that contain alcohol, which can dry the skin and worsen psoriasis. (For scalp psoriasis, there are numerous shampoos available at most drug stores. Look for a shampoo that contains salicylic acid. Be sure to treat your scalp gently, as harsh shampoos, scalp massages or scratching can dry your scalp and aggravate psoriasis symptoms).

Take baths or soak affected areas of skin to replace skin moisture and soften scales. You will benefit most by applying an ointment, cream, or lotion within minutes after your bath to seal in moisture. Otherwise, when the water evaporates, it will make your skin even drier. Take care to monitor the temperature of your bath water - avoid bathing in very hot water.

Pat yourself dry (i.e., don't rub your skin) after a bath - this helps keep skin moisturized and prevents irritation.

If you're cleansing your skin while bathing, use a mild soap (such as Dove® or Neutrogena®) instead of deodorant soaps or other harsh soaps. Employ this general rule-of-thumb: if it smells strong, it might be too harsh for your skin. If you're unsure about what soap to use, ask your doctor, dermatologist, or pharmacist for a recommendation.

Keep in mind that your skin care regimens may vary with seasonal changes. It's important to increase your use of moisturizing creams and ointments during the winter by applying heavier layers, especially over the areas affected by psoriasis. Also during the winter months, remember that the humidity is generally lower, especially in homes with forced air heating. If possible, use a humidifier in your home during the winter months to help keep your skin well-hydrated.

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