Know what to expect from your topical treatment

Top tips on how to cope


If you suspect that you’re experiencing a side effect from your psoriasis treatment, speak to your doctor about how to best deal with it.

Talk to your doctor about possible side effects, so you know what to expect.

Side effects from topical treatment

Some topical treatments may cause skin irritation as a common side effect. This may present as a burning sensation in the skin and itchiness.

Other side effects include: skin thinning, pigmentation changes, increased sensitivity to sunlight, increased blood calcium levels, and adrenal effects.

Itching is a common complaint for people with psoriasis. Here are a few things you can do to help you manage the sensation without scratching:
  • Have a 10-minute bath in lukewarm water with a spoonful of bathing oil.
  • Moisturise skin regularly with emollient creams or ointments because dry skin feels itchier.
  • Try to avoid medications which contain alcohol as they can dry the skin and make it itchier
  • For the scalp: use a soft shampoo and conditioner after every shampoo to moisturize the scalp. Let your hair air dry. The hot air of the hairdryer can dry the skin of your scalp
  • Run cold water over your scalp or body
  • Apply a cold compress or a cold wet towel to the affected area. This is useful if skin also feels like it’s burning from the itch.
  • Hold off scratching for 10 seconds, then clench your fist for 30 seconds. This helps distract the urge. Then, if the itch is still there, push your finger down on the area.3
  • Distract yourself with another activity – perhaps make a cup of tea, pick up a book or put some music on.
  • Ask a partner, family member or friend to help take your mind off the itching by talking to you while you wait for the sensation to go away.

If you do experience side effects, simple strategies like these may help you manage them.

If in doubt – ask your doctor or pharmacist

If you experience mild skin irritation as a side effect of your treatment, some of these simple strategies may help you manage them. If the problems continue, or if you experience any kind of unexpected reaction to your medication you should always talk with your doctor.