Learn more about treating psoriasis & find ways to help soothe irritation

Psoriasis is much more than a physical skin condition. The effects can also be challenging psychologically, so choosing products and treatments to help manage the symptoms associated with psoriasis is key. 

Luckily for you, we’ve put together a complete guide on the available products and treatments so you can find something suitable for you that will hopefully provide some relief. 

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a long-term, skin condition, thought to be related to a problem with the immune system, that causes patches of itchy and scaly skin. This happens because too many new skin cells are made and replaced too quickly. 

Raised plaques can occur anywhere on the body but are most common on the elbows, knees, scalp and back. It’s thought that psoriasis currently affects around 2% to 3% of the UK population (1.8 million people), although this is an estimate.

Psoriasis can affect a person both physically and psychologically, so it’s important to seek advice and support from your GP.

What types of treatment are available?

No two experiences of psoriasis are the same, but it’s important to remember that it can be managed. With the right treatment and advice, people are able to live well with psoriasis. Typically, there are three categories of treatment available for psoriasis:

 Topical – creams, gels and ointments that can be applied to the affected skin

• Phototherapy – using ultraviolet light to help reduce inflammation of the skin

 Systemic – oral and injected medications that affect the whole body

Your doctor will probably start with a mild treatment, such as topical creams applied to the skin. If your symptoms are particularly severe or not responding well to treatment, your GP may refer you to a skin specialist (dermatologist).

Boots Online Doctor Psoriasis service* may be able to advise on a topical treatment suitable for you, following an online consultation with a clinician. To find out more about psoriasis and the available treatments, visit Boots Online Doctor, or speak to your GP.

What topical products can be used for psoriasis?

Although there is no cure for psoriasis, there are some products available that may help provide short-term relief for symptoms associated with psoriasis, such as itching and flaking. However, these are no substitute for the treatment your GP, skincare specialist or Boots Online Doctor may be able to provide for you.

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to psoriasis treatment, so this can often be a case of trial and error to see what works for you and your type of psoriasis. Remember – what works for one person may not work for you.

It’s important to consult your GP or dermatologist to find a product that’s suitable for you. But for those with mild psoriasis, here are some of our topical product recommendations that may help provide some short-term relief.

Double Base Diomed Flare Relief Emollient 

• Size: 100g

• Free from fragrances, steroids, parabens, SLS & MI preservatives 

This dual-action moisturising and anti-inflammatory emollient helps repair the skin’s protective barrier and relieve dry skin that’s prone to flare ups. Containing nicotinamide, a vitamin B derivative with proven anti-inflammatory properties, this formula contributes to the reduction of redness and inflammation.

E45 Cream for Dry Skin

• Size: 350g

• Perfume free

• Dermatologically tested 

Clinically proven to soothe itching, flaking and rough skin, E45’s non-greasy, fragrance-free emollient formula leaves skin feeling relieved and comfortable without causing irritation. What’s more, it can be used on all skin areas of the body including the hands and face.

Boots Dermacare Psoriasis Treatment

• Size: 30ml

• Steroid free

• Suitable for daily use 

For mild to moderate psoriasis, this cream helps reduce hardening, itching, scaling and redness of the skin while supporting the skin’s own repair mechanism. Enriched with the natural cell-protective molecule, ectoin, helps to soothe irritation caused by psoriasis. 

Alphosyl 2-in-1 Medicated Shampoo

• Size: 250ml

• For use once or twice a week

• Herbal fragrance 

Washing your hair when you have scalp psoriasis can cause further irritation thanks to the added chemicals in many shampoos. With alcoholic extract of coal tar as the active ingredient, relieve itching and help breakdown keratin with this anti-scaling agent infused with herbal fragrances.

Dermalex Psoriasis Scalp Treatment Gel

• Size: 75g

• Developed by dermatologists

• Steroid/tar free

Keep psoriasis symptoms on the scalp such as scaling, itching, irritation, redness and dandruff-like flaking at bay with this specially designed gel treatment. Working on hair covered skin, the easily absorbed and non-greasy formula creates a protective layer on top of the skin to lock in moisture. 

The above may only provide mild relief for a short period of time. It’s important to remember they probably won’t stop flare ups occurring completely, but they may help ease and manage the symptoms of psoriasis.

How does phototherapy work?

Phototherapy uses natural and artificial ultraviolet light to help treat psoriasis. This is often carried out in a hospital, usually in a dermatology or specialist skin department, by a team of health professionals. This is not the same as using a sunbed in the likes of a gym or spa.

Narrowband Ultraviolet B (UVB)

Often used to treat guttate and plaque psoriasis that hasn’t responded to topical treatments, narrowband UVB phototherapy uses a wavelength of light invisible to the human eye. This light slows down the production of skin cells and can reduce inflammation in the skin. Typically, a person using phototherapy will have two to three treatments a week for up to eight to 10 weeks.

Psoralen Plus Ultraviolet A (PUVA) 

PUVA is a combination of a UVA light and psoralen, a chemical derived from plants, to make skin more sensitive to light. When the skin is exposed to a wavelength of UVA light, it can penetrate your skin more deeply than UVB light. Psoralen can be taken as a tablet, applied to the affected areas of skin as a gel or cream, or added to bath water to soak the whole body. It may be used if you experience severe psoriasis that isn’t responding to other treatment methods. However, using this treatment long-term is not recommended, as it can increase your risk of skin cancer.

How does systemic treatment work?

Unlike topical treatments that are applied to the affected area of skin, systemic medicines work throughout the entire body. 

There are two main types: 

• Non-biological – given in the form of tablets and capsules

 Biological – usually given as injections

Systemics may be prescribed by a dermatologist if your psoriasis is moderate to severe and has not responded to topical treatments or phototherapy. Most commonly used to treat psoriasis in the UK are Methotrexate, Ciclosporin and Acitretin. These medications can be very effective in treating psoriasis, but before starting treatment, talk to your GP or dermatologist about your options and any potential risks associated with them.

Still need help?

If you’re struggling to cope with your psoriasis, get in touch with your GP, dermatologist or charities such as Psoriasis Association for more information, advice and support.  



If you’re concerned about your skin or want to find out how to keep yourself safe in the sun, read our guides for useful information, advice & products available to help*

What is psoriasis?

Learn what psoriasis is, what causes it & how to identify the different types of psoriasis

*Access to treatment is subject to an online consultation with a clinician to assess suitability. Charges apply.