12 Best Creams for Psoriasis in 2023

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The 12 Best Creams for Psoriasis of 2022

Amazon

Dealing with any skin condition can be frustrating, but psoriasis may just be one of the most problematic of the bunch. If you do suffer from it, take heart in the fact that you’re not alone; the National Psoriasis Foundation estimates that psoriasis affects 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. population.

"This chronic condition stems from an overactive immune system that speeds up the turnover of skin cells," explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Charlotte Birnbaum. Simply put, your skin cells start to multiply much more rapidly than they should, sometimes up to 10 times faster than normal. The result? Itchy, scaly red patches on the skin known as plaques, as well as rough, white flaky skin known as scales. And no one really knows why this happens: “It’s thought that psoriasis occurs in patients who are genetically susceptible, but we usually do not know the initial trigger that sets off the rash,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jason Miller.

What we do know is there are ways to help manage it. Cases can range from mild to severe, and it’s important to note that if your psoriasis falls more towards the severe end of the spectrum, it’s important to book an appointment with your derm. “If the plaques have gotten thick, spread to sensitive areas like the genitals, or cover a large part of your body, see your dermatologist,” advises Dr. Miller, who notes that there are many therapies including prescription topicals, lasers, and light therapy that can be effective.

The good news? If psoriasis is mild, there are a plethora of OTC options that can help. Keep scrolling for the best creams for psoriasis.

Byrdie Researched + Approved

Our best overall pick is CeraVe Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream, which contains 2% salicylic acid to target itchy skin and scales—but also soothes irritation and hydrates with niacinamide, urea, and ceramides. Plus, the formula has the coveted National Psoriasis Foundation Seal of Recognition, signifying it's safe and effective for those experiencing psoriasis. For a more preventative treatment, consider MG217 Medicated Multi-Symptom Coal Tar Ointment, which contains 2% coal tar—one of only two FDA-approved active ingredients for psoriasis treatment. The ointment addresses overall inflammation, itching, and scales, and consistent usage of coal tar has been scientifically shown to reduce the overgrowth of cells associated with psoriasis.

Best Overall

CeraVe Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Approved by the National Psoriasis Foundation

  • Can be used anywhere on the face, body, or scalp

  • Provides significant relief from itchy skin, plaque, and scales

What We Don't Like
  • Messy packaging

Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe’s Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream has 2% salicylic acid to help treat psoriatic skin symptoms, like scaling. The niacinamide-boosted cream also moisturizes and repairs the skin barrier, helping to restore essential moisture. It has the coveted National Psoriasis Foundation Seal of Recognition, and the organization notes the cream helps address scaling and the removal of dead skin cells without being too harsh on skin. To boot, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Heather Rogers recommends the cream for her patients, too: “I like CeraVe's Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream with 2% salicylic acid to treat thick plaques on the knees and elbows.” 

Price at time of publish: $20

Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid, niacinamide | Skin Type: Scales and flakes | Size: 8 fluid ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Scales

MG217 Medicated Multi-Symptom 2% Coal Tar Ointment

MG217 Medicated Multi-Symptom Coal Tar Ointment

Amazon

What We Like
  • Approved by the National Psoriasis Foundation

  • Coal tar has clinically proven results

  • Reduction in scaling and itching

What We Don't Like
  • Unpleasant order

  • Potential staining on hair, skin, or clothing

MG217 features coal tar, one of only two active ingredients approved by the FDA for psoriasis treatment (the other being salicylic acid). What is coal tar? According to a 2010 study, the resin has been used to treat psoriasis for hundreds of years, and shows significant results in the reduction of inflammation, itching, and scaling. This ointment has 2% coal tar—the same percentage used in that 2010 clinical study.

Price at time of publish: $10 

Active Ingredients: Coal tar | Skin Type: Itchy scales, flakes, redness | Size: 4 fluid ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Eyes

Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream

4.5
Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream

Amazon

What We Like
  • Approved by the National Eczema Association

  • Appropriate for even hypersensitive skin

  • Hydrating and soothing

What We Don't Like
  • Tiny tube

Irritation and psoriasis around the eyes can be incredibly painful. Consult with your doctor before applying any active topical treatments around the eyes. While Avène’s Soothing Eye Contour Cream doesn’t contain any active treatment ingredients, like salicylic acid, the cream is perfect for those with hypersensitive skin, as it’s known for soothing, hydrating, and reducing puffiness. It’s an ideal addition on its own or in tandem with dermatologist-recommended treatments. The formula includes chamomile to soothe and the brand’s thermal spring water, which is clinically shown to soothe, soften, and calm the skin.

Price at time of publish: $22

Active Ingredients: Avène Thermal Spring Water, chamomile extract, hyaluronic acid | Skin Type: All | Size: 0.33 fluid ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Intense Itch

Curél Hydratherapy Itch Defense Wet Skin Moisturizer

Curél Curél Hydratherapy Itch Defense Wet Skin Moisturizer

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Reduces itch

  • Approved by the National Psoriasis Foundation

  • Approved by the National Eczema Association

  • Absorbs quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note pump is flimsy

Thanks to oatmeal extract, vitamin E, and a ceramide complex, this goes to town fast, minimizing itch and generally making skin feel better. The formula is water-activated, so you’re meant to slather it on immediately post-shower (which, let’s be real, minimizes the likelihood that you’ll skip it or forget to use it). It’s so great for irritated skin conditions that it has both the National Psoriasis Foundation's Seal of Recognition and the National Eczema Association's Seal of Acceptance.

Price at time of publish: $12

Active Ingredients: Advanced ceramide complex | Skin Type: Dry, itchy | Size: 12 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget

Gold Bond Ultimate Psoriasis Relief Cream

Gold Bond Ultimate Psoriasis Relief Cream

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Breaks down plaques and scale

  • Reduces itch

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel sticky

Itchiness is one (majorly annoying) symptom of psoriasis, which is why this earns top points for helping to tamp down the itch. Plus, it also contains salicylic acid—at the maximum over-the-counter 3 percent concentration—to help break down plaques and scale. And since it costs less than lunch, you can go ahead and slather it on with reckless abandon.

Price at time of publish: $10

Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid | Skin Type: Dry, itchy | Size: 4 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dry Skin

Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Nourishing Balm

4.2
Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Balm

Amazon

What We Like
  • Pump bottle

  • Very hydrating

  • Reduces itch

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel sticky

Specially formulated for extremely dry or even atopic (read: extremely dry and red and itchy) skin, this is a top pick for those who have to deal with both dryness and psoriasis. It offers a heavy hit of hydration immediately but also has an exclusive complex that works to repair a damaged skin barrier. And psoriasis-sufferers will appreciate that it is formulated to ease itchiness.

Price at time of publish: $28

Active Ingredients: Zinc, ceramides, vitamin C | Skin Type: All | Size: 16.7 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Elbows

Dove DermaSeries Fragrance-Free Skin Balm

Dove DermaSeries Fragrance-Free Skin Balm

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Absorbs quickly

  • Non-greasy

  • Great for elbows

What We Don't Like
  • Open jar packaging

The elbows are another common spot where psoriasis appears, says Dr. Miller. And for that particular area, this balm can't be beaten. It’s creamy enough to address the thicker skin on your elbows; credit a petroleum jelly blend that’s great for dry skin areas, psoriasis-prone ones included. Still, it absorbs quickly without feeling greasy, so you can even use it in the morning before getting dressed.

Price at time of publish: $6

Active Ingredients: Petroleum jelly | Skin Type: Dry, eczema-prone | Size: 4.8 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Your Torso

ISDIN Uradin Lotion10

Isdin Uradin Lotion10

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Non-greasy

  • Promises 24-hour hydration

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

While urea may not be one of the FDA-approved psoriasis ingredients, Dr. Birnbaum says it’s still a good choice: “Moisturizers that include urea are very beneficial for psoriasis as they exfoliate while enhancing the barrier of the skin.” This is one of her favorites, and we especially like it for slathering onto the chest, stomach, and back, areas where you definitely don’t want any kind of lingering greasy residue.

Price at time of publish: $39

Active Ingredients: Urea, dexpanthenol, emollients | Skin Type: All | Size: 13.5 ounces | SPF: No | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Drugstore

Eucerin Roughness Relief Lotion

Eucerin Roughness Relief Lotion

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Very hydrating

  • Fragrance-, dye-, and paraben-free

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel sticky

Grab this great pick containing urea the next time you’re at the drugstore and slather it on from head to toe. Along with smoothing, hydrating, and exfoliating benefits of urea, it's fragrance-free, dye-free, and paraben-free, all important qualities to seek out in a product when you have psoriasis.

Price at time of publish: $12

Active Ingredients: Urea, ceramide 3 | Skin Type: Dry, rough, bumpy | Size: 16.9 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Multi-Purpose

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm B5 Body and Hand Lotion

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm B5 Body and Hand Lotion

Amazon

What We Like
  • Fights irritation and inflammation

  • Multi-purpose product

  • Non-greasy

What We Don't Like
  • Small amount

While not officially positioned as a psoriasis cream, this universal skin salve is ideal for anyone dealing with the condition. The super soother is packed with ingredients such as panthenol, shea butter, and glycerin to help fight irritation and inflammation, which is exactly what you want when you’re dealing with psoriasis. Not to mention that you can then use it as a face moisturizer on any cuts or burns, even chapped lips.

Price at time of publish: $16

Active Ingredients: Vitamin B5, shea butter, La Roche-Posay thermal spring water | Skin Type: Cracked, chapped, chafed, dry | Size: 1.35 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Ointment

DermaER Psoriasis Medicated Cream

DermaER Psoriasis Medicated Cream
What We Like
  • Breaks down plaques and scale

  • Fragrance-free

  • Absorbs quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Can irritate eyes

With a thicker consistency, this ointment is choice for dabbing onto smaller spots and is ideal for anyone who suffers from random, smaller areas of plaques and scales. It touts 2 percent salicylic acid in a steroid-free and fragrance-free formula.

Price at time of publish: $29

Active Ingredients: Salicylic acid | Skin Type: Dry, itchy, irritated, eczema-prone, psoriasis-prone | Size: 2.7 ounces | SPF: None | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Scalp

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

Courtesy of Neutrogena

What We Like
  • Fights irritation and inflammation

  • Affordable

  • Reduces itch

What We Don't Like
  • Strong scent

The scalp is a common spot where psoriasis can crop up. Admittedly, it may be less visible here than when it’s on your arms or legs, but the discomfort can be intense. We know, we know, this isn’t a cream, but really, who wants to apply a cream on their scalp? We’ll let this one sneak onto the list, especially because it came highly recommended for scalp psoriasis by two of the derms we interviewed.

It contains coal tar, the other FDA-approved ingredient for psoriasis, which has been shown to calm inflammation in the skin and slow the growth of skin cells, helping with the itch and scaling associated with psoriasis, notes Dr. Birnbaum. FYI, to fully reap the benefits, Dr. Miller recommends using it two to three times per week and letting it sit on the scalp for at least a few minutes before rinsing.

Price at time of publish: $9

Active Ingredients: Coal tar | Skin Type: Dry, psoriasis-prone, itchy, flaky | Size: 4.4 ounces, 8.5 fluid ounces, 16 ounces | SPF: None | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Final Verdict

“There is no cure for psoriasis, but this is a very common disease, and there are many treatments that can help,” says Dr. Rogers concisely. Try pairing hydrating, soothing products, like Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream and Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Nourishing Balm with more treatment-focused products, like CeraVe Psoriasis Moisturizing Cream with 2% salicylic acid. This dual-step plan allows you to protect and hydrate inflamed skin while also addressing redness, flaking, and plaques.

Meet the Expert

What To Look for in Creams for Psoriasis

Ingredients

There are only a few ingredients recognized by the FDA for over-the-counter psoriasis treatment. Here are a few of the most important to look for in your next psoriasis cream.

Salicylic Acid: “Many over-the-counter psoriasis lotions have a chemical exfoliator in them, such as salicylic acid, to help exfoliate off the dead skin that is piling up because of rapid cell turnover,” says Dr. Rogers. Salicylic acid is the most commonly found acid in psoriasis creams—mainly because of its known effectiveness. Salicylic acid acts as a scale-lifter of sorts, helping to soften and exfoliate scales to allow other ingredients to penetrate the skin. The FDA notes that any range between 1.8 percent to 3 percent salicylic acid is beneficial. 

Coal Tar: According to the FDA, coal tar is effective at treating not only psoriasis, but also dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, too. Coal tar has been shown to slow the overgrowth of cells common in psoriasis, as well as help soothe itching, inflammation, and scaling. Look for products in the 0.5 percent to 5 percent range. 

Hydrating and Calming Ingredients: Dr. Rogers recommends finding products that also offer anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as niacinamide and oat. She says that it’s just as important to soothe and hydrate as it is to target psoriasis with active ingredients. The National Psoriasis Foundation also suggests incorporating aloe vera and jojoba oil into your routine to moisturize, calm, and relieve itching.

Location of Psoriasis

The location of your psoriasis can greatly affect the products you’ll want to use for relief. Applying a thick ointment to the middle of your scalp isn’t as easy as using a treatment shampoo. Some of the most common psoriasis spots are already known for their association with rough skin, like the elbows and knees, and salve or ointment may be incredibly healing for those areas. If you’re treating a more stubborn, thicker-skin area, try using a rich, occlusive-based product.

Type

The American Academy of Dermatology notes that plaque psoriasis is the most common type, affecting about 80 to 90 percent of individuals with psoriasis. Plaque causes patches of thick, raised skin and thin, silvery-white coated scales. This type of psoriasis (if mild) can do well with over-the-counter treatments. For the more rare forms of psoriasis, it’s best to consult with your doctor for a customized treatment plan.

FAQ
  • Should you put lotion on psoriasis?

    “It is helpful to use lotion and cream on psoriasis plaques to protect the inflamed skin and help with the scaliness and texture of the plaques,” says Dr. Rogers. Today’s creams can not only help to ease itching and hydrate sensitive skin, but they can also help to slough off excess dead skin, flakes, and scales.

  • What is psoriasis cream used for?

    Many of those who have psoriasis find it beneficial to use a combination of products to address the condition. 

    “For every day, you need a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer and cleanser to protect, hydrate, and cleanse the more easily irritated, already inflamed skin,” recommends Dr. Rogers. She notes that products labeled specifically for sensitive skin or eczema are also great for patients with psoriasis.

    Depending on how your psoriasis presents on your skin, another product may be needed to resolve it. There are three categories which can target various types of psoriasis. First, there are products that can settle redness, like hydrocortisone. Second, there are those that help smooth out plaque and flakes with salicylic or glycolic acid. And third, there are shampoos and treatments to fight flakes on your scalp, as Dr. Rogers notes that dandruff often goes hand-in-hand with psoriasis.

  • What is the fastest treatment for psoriasis?

    While over-the-counter treatments can be incredibly effective for mild psoriasis, the fastest and most beneficial treatments for this skin condition are found at the doctor’s office. Dr. Rogers recommends consulting with a dermatologist to see if a prescription-strength solution is best for you, which can include a topical steroid or vitamin D cream. These topicals inhibit inflammation and slow cell growth. “Dermatologists also prescribe light therapy, laser therapy, and biologic medications to help control psoriasis,” says Dr. Rogers.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Kristin Limoges is a NY-based editor with nearly a decade of expertise in the wellness and beauty space. For this roundup, she consulted several board-certified dermatologists and numerous medical journals, ensuring the products and tips were thoroughly researched and science-backed.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. National Psoriasis Foundation. Psoriasis: Causes, Triggers and Treatments.

  2. Zeichner, Joshua A. Use of Topical Coal Tar Foam for the Treatment of Psoriasis in Difficult-to-Treat Areas. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2010 Sep; 3(9): 37–40.

  3. Torsekar R, Gautam MM. Topical Therapies in Psoriasis. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2017 Jul-Aug;8(4):235-245. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.209622

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