For over ten years, I’ve battled with a skin condition called psoriasis. Psoriasis is a common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful. Psoriasis is a chronic disease that often comes and goes. When I first started experiencing these symptoms, I didn’t know what was causing it or what it was. It was really embarrassing dealing with this issue and not knowing what it was or how to treat it. It wasn’t until I started transitioning into a healthier lifestyle that I finally figured out I had psoriasis and what was causing my flareups.
I can say without a doubt that psoriasis can be caused by two things: stress and/or an environmental factor. Environmental factors can be chemicals in your shampoo, body lotion, laundry detergent or a side effect from a prescribed medication or vaccine reaction.
In terms of treatment, I always lean into cleaning up what I am in control of first (what I apply to my body.) I’ve found that learning what ingredients to stay away from can be very helpful and can potentially help your skin completely heal.
I steer clear of the following ingredients in my products and I have seen a dramatic difference in my skin healing because of it:
Salicylic acid – Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat psoriasis, “sal acid,” as it’s commonly called, is available in a variety of products, including shampoos, ointments, lotions, creams, soaps, and pastes. Salicylic acid helps to soften scales and exfoliate or lift them off your skin. Sal acid can be helpful as long as you use it according to directions. Too much salicylic acid, or salicylic acid left on the skin (or scalp) for too long, can cause irritation or stinging. For me, no matter what the dosage, this has irritated my skin anytime I have tried to use.
Sulfates – Most shampoos contain sulfates to create a rich, foamy lather — without the froth, it seems, people don’t think their shampoo is working. However, sulfates can irritate the scalp. If you have a sensitive scalp and psoriasis, look for sulfate-free shampoos. Sulfates may be listed under ingredients as sodium laureth (or lauryl) sulfate or ammonium lauryl sulfate. Finding a non toxic shampoo and conditioner that didn’t leave my hair feeling waxy has been a pain in the butt but after six years, I’ve finally found my winner. You can learn more about my hair routine here.
Fragrance or alcohol – If you have psoriasis or sensitive skin, look for fragrance-free skin care products and shampoos. Scents added to make products smell good or just to neutralize their odor can be irritating (“unscented” might not be fragrance-free). The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. Any time that I have used a product with “fragrance” as an ingredient, I see an immediate reaction on my skin.
After finding out that the ingredients above contributed to my psoriasis breakouts, I worked hard on switching out my personal care products to ones that did not contain them. It did take a little time and trial and error but, I am really happy with the products I have found since switching out.
Have you ever thought about the chemicals that they add to our tap water? Most of the time there is a chemical that has been added that is linked to skin irritations and just by using a water filter can reduce your psoriasis flare ups. I encourage you to check the tap water database on EWG to reference what is in your city’s tap water to see if irritants are included. If so, grab yourself a water filter! I promise it will make a difference.
By following a clean routine above, I’ve been able to completely keep my psoriasis at bay and I am hopeful that you can too. Try it out and let me know what happens.