Psoriasis, a chronic skin disease that does not have a cure, is characterized by outbreaks of thick, scaly skin patches that can be inflamed, red and painful. A number of treatment options exist, but none specifically addresses the symptom of redness on its own; most work to get rid of irritation, redness and scaly skin at the same time. Psoriasis outbreaks generally last from two to four weeks, but for mild to moderate cases of psoriasis, red and inflamed skin patches can improve within days after home treatment. For more severe cases of redness from psoriasis, prescription-strength medications may be needed.
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Soak in a bath. A 15-minute soak in a lukewarm bath can alleviate the pain associated with inflamed skin and can lighten red psoriasis skin. Make sure the water is not too hot, as this will exacerbate the redness. The Mayo Clinic recommends adding colloidal oatmeal, Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts to the water and using soaps that have oils or fats added to them.
Apply moisturizers. These will be more effective if applied immediately following a bath. Dab, but do not rub, your skin with a towel after the bath, then apply an ointment-based moisturizer. You may need to apply moisturizer more frequently during cold and dry weather. Look for over-the-counter moisturizers that contain ingredients such as jojoba, zinc pyrithione and aloe vera. The National Psoriasis Foundation suggests that cooking oils and shortening can be used instead of commercial moisturizers.
Cover the moisturizers. This method, known as occlusion, involves putting a moisturizer on the affected red skin, covering it overnight with plastic wrap, cotton socks or waterproof dressing, and then washing it off in the morning. This will increase the amount of moisturizer absorbed by the skin, thereby relieving redness faster than simply applying moisturizers without covering them up.
Use phototherapy by exposing reddened skin to either sunlight or artificial UVB light. According to PsoriasisNet (a comprehensive online psoriasis database), sunlight and artificial UVB light destroy excessive T-cells, the white blood cells whose uncontrolled proliferation is responsible for creating the redness of psoriatic skin. Sunbathe for short bursts and not more than three to four times per week, and always use sunblock of at least 15 SPF. Artificial UVB phototherapy can be administered in a clinical setting, so talk to your dermatologist about this option.
Combine phototherapy with over-the-counter ointments or creams. The Mayo Clinic states that combining topical ointments or creams with phototherapy can speed up skin redness reduction. For example, a procedure called the Goeckerman treatment involves using UVB phototherapy (administered in a clinical setting) in combination with the topical application of coal tar, a petroleum byproduct (and one of the oldest treatments for psoriasis). The coal tar makes skin more sensitive to UVB light, which in turn makes phototherapy sessions more effective.