Scratching and drying out skin causes secondary irritation for psoriasis.
Psoriasis itches, but don't scratch it, it will make it much worse. Two of the biggest causes of daily secondary irritation that prevent healing are using fingernails and soap on the patches. Oils and lotions can loosen scales and reduce itch, so you can gently rub flakes off with your finger tips.
Here is a more exhaustive list of things to avoid directly on psoriasis spots:
- Rough materials
- Scratchy materials
- Tight materials
- Harsh chemicals
- Cold, dry, windy air
- Hot water
- Cold water
- Sandy water
- Rough water
- Sun burn
- Freezer burn
- Road rash
- Razor burn
- Back scratchers
- Cheese graters
The goal is to keep the skin moisturized and undisturbed so it can heal. Any dryness or abrasion can irritate your skin and cause extra local inflammatory response. Especially if using fingernails and ripping of scales that are still attached. This can also happen in your sleep.
Soap alternatives can be useful to use on spots. See my soap alternatives page. zinc pyrithione dandruff shampoos like Head & Shoulders and vinegars such as apple cider vinegar are good ones. But they can sometimes irritate skin. Plain oils and room temperature water are often effective for removing scales and cleaning, with minimal irritation.
The one exception on dryness for me, is my scalp. Malassezia, the dandruff causing fungus, feeds on skin oils and saturated fats. Drying the scalp out with regular shampoo, then applying antiseptic mouthwash like Listerine for 5-10 minutes, is the most effective scalp treatment I have found. Listerine is water, alcohol, and essential oils of peppermint, eucalyptus, and thyme. It further drys out the skin oils then replaces them with anti-fungal unsaturated plant oils. Afterwards, it can be removed from the the hair with a towel.
Overnight moisturizers and protective clothing can be very useful for healing. See my oil recipes page. Aloe butter, shea butter, and jojoba butter are great natural oil moisturizers for starters. Socks on your hands and feet can help prevent scratching. Synthetic long clothes, like an athletic base-layer, along with an extra synthetic sheet, can also reduce scratching and keep oils off of your sheets. Base layers can also be useful under clothes, if you want to go oily during the day.
Scraped, cut, or just badly irritated psoriasis spots can get a secondary infection. Antiseptic can help prevent this when it happens. A few good ones are: essential oil treatments like Vick's, antiseptic mouthwash like Listerine, and antiseptic chlorhexidine rinse like Hibiclens I also use them every week or two on normal spots.