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Making the Best Choices for Your Psoriasis

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This content is created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. The content is subject to the Healthgrades medical review process for accuracy, balance and objectivity. The content is not edited or otherwise influenced by the advertisers appearing on this page except with the possible suggestion of the broad topic area. For more information, read the Healthgrades advertising policy.

5 Skin Care Tips for Black People with Psoriasis

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Asha Uwimana Woodfolk on February 23, 2022
  • young-woman-looking-at-reflection-in-mirror
    Keeping your skin healthy
    These plaques may be embarrassing, feel uncomfortable, and affect your mental health. However, with the right doctor, treatment, and skin care knowledge, Black people with psoriasis can manage their condition effectively.

    Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in the body, which leads to thick, itchy, and scaly patches, developing on the skin. On dark skin, the patches, or plaques, can be purple or brown with gray scales, and they can also appear thicker than they do on light skin.
  • Female medical expert discussing with patient sitting on examination table at medical clinic
    1. Find the right psoriasis doctor and treatment
    To ensure you’re getting the best treatment, look for a dermatologist with experience treating psoriasis in skin of color, and consider reaching out to an ethnic skin center in your area.

    There is a lot to learn when it comes to managing psoriasis, and many treatment options are available. However, Black people with psoriasis may face unique barriers to treating their condition effectively.

    Due to healthcare inequities rooted in systemic racism, Black people are less likely than white people to have access to dermatologists, who have the expertise needed to prescribe appropriate psoriasis treatments. Also, doctors are less likely to prescribe more intensive medications, like biologic therapies, to Black individuals, despite the fact that their psoriasis may be more severe and cover more skin than that of white people.
  • young couple on beach
    2. Have safe fun in the sun
    For people with psoriasis, any additional skin irritation, including sunburn, is very painful. People with dark skin may have a lower risk of sunburn than people with fairer skin, but it is still important to protect your skin from the sun.

    To prevent sunburn, use sunscreen liberally. Both the National Psoriasis Foundation and the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommend choosing sunscreen with the following characteristics:

    • It should be made especially for sensitive skin.
    • It should have an SPF of 30 or higher.
    • It should have broad-spectrum protection, meaning that it protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • middle aged woman relaxing or meditating with eyes closed
    3. Prevent psoriasis flare-ups when you can
    Stress is also a very common trigger for flare-ups, so managing your stress through journaling, breathing exercises, or delegating work to others, among other strategies, can greatly improve your ability to manage your psoriasis and keep your skin healthy.

    Psoriasis flares can occur due to many triggers, and it is different for every individual. Tracking your symptoms, as well as your diet, sleep, and exercise habits, can help you identify which triggers you should avoid.

    In general, reducing your consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, and cigars is thought to cut down on psoriasis exacerbations and keep skin stronger and better hydrated.
  • Young woman in bathroom applying face cream
    4. Be careful with chemicals
    It is important to avoid fragrant shampoos and lotions, as strong scents tend to cause increased irritation. Make sure to utilize moisture-rich but alcohol-free body wash, as alcohol is harsh and dehydrating. Lotions and creams that contain vitamin E, aloe vera, vitamin B3, glycerin, or salicylic acid are good choices for safe moisturization. And always moisturize as soon as you step out of the bath or shower to lock in hydration.

    When bathing and showering, it is important to consider the chemicals in the products that are cleansing and moisturizing your skin. Black people in particular are more likely to have dry skin than white people. Studies indicate that their skin loses moisture at a quicker rate. Dry skin can cause psoriasis to flare, so Black individuals should take extra careful consideration when it comes to moisturizing their skin.
  • African American doctor and patient talking in office
    5. Advocate for personalized hair care
    Scalp psoriasis can be very complicated for Black people. Not only can the symptoms be stubborn and hard to treat, but they can also interfere with your hair care routine. When talking with your dermatologist, make sure to mention how often you wash your hair and how you typically style it. Often, doctors will prescribe medicated shampoo for you to use daily, but this can dry out curly hair. Your doctor might also recommend topical creams or ointments, which can clash with your styling routine. Being honest and clear about your hair care needs is important because your dermatologist may not have experience with the unique way in which Black people style and care for their hair. Armed with this information, your doctor can prescribe different therapies that work for your lifestyle for a more tailored treatment experience.
Psoriasis Skin Care Tips | Psoriasis on Black Skin

About the Author

  1. 8 ways to stop baths and showers from worsening your psoriasis. (n.d.). https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/skin-care/baths-showers
  2. Are triggers causing your psoriasis flare-ups? (n.d.). https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/triggers/flares
  3. Bilyj, B. (2020). Treating skin of color. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/treating-skin-of-color/
  4. Fischer, A. H., et al. (2018). Healthcare utilization for psoriasis in the United States differs by race: An analysis of the 2001–2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6035870/
  5. How can an African American woman treat scalp psoriasis? (n.d.). https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/treatment/genitals/scalp-african-american
  6. Kaufman, B., et al. (2021). Eczema in skin of color: What you need to know. https://nationaleczema.org/eczema-in-skin-of-color/
  7. Koons, S. (2021). Psoriasis and skin of color. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/diagnosing-psoriasis-in-skin-of-color/
  8. Liu, J., et al. (2021). Prevalence of psoriasis among adults in the US 2009-2010 and 2013-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(20)32847-4/fulltext
  9. Taking care of your skin in summer. (2020). https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/taking-care-of-your-skin-in-summer/
  10. Tull, R. Z., et al. (2020). Ethnic skin centers in the United States: Where are we in 2020? https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(20)30476-X/fulltext
  11. Werbach, M. (2021). Moisturizers meant for you. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/moisturizers-psoriasis/
  12. What is psoriasis? (2020). https://www.cdc.gov/psoriasis/index.htm
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Last Review Date: 2022 Feb 7
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