When I was first diagnosed with psoriasis, I assumed I would need a ton of expensive prescription treatments or to overhaul my entire life in order to manage it. But I learned over time not to underestimate the power of simple drugstore creams and lotions.
Psoriasis is thought to be an autoimmune condition that causes the body to push skin cells through their natural life cycle too quickly, leaving them to build up on the skin’s surface. That can result in a variety of skin symptoms, most commonly plaques, which are inflamed areas of red, dry skin, often covered with silvery scales.
I have one of these stubborn plaques on each of my elbows, one of which developed years before the other. For a long time I thought it was just a dry patch of skin that wouldn’t go away. And I guess essentially that’s what it is. But it was finally diagnosed as plaque psoriasis about two years ago. It was great to finally have an answer for what was going on with my poor dry, itchy elbow — and an explanation for why it wouldn’t completely disappear no matter how much moisturiser I gave it.
But it was even better that I didn’t really have to change what I was doing to manage it. I’m lucky that my psoriasis isn’t usually severe enough that I need a prescription treatment, and I’ve always used a drugstore moisturiser with a fair amount of success: I started with the Aveeno Skin Relief moisturising lotion, £9, which I liked but it felt too thin. Then I graduated to the Skin Relief moisture repair cream, £17.99, which is thicker and contains ceramides, and I’ve never looked back. (To be fair, I do still keep the lotion at my desk because the tube is a little less conspicuous than the tub that the cream comes in.)
I love that both of these products are fragrance free (they just have a mild oaty scent) and are just so, so gentle on this incredibly sensitive patch of skin. When it starts to look cracked or feel itchy, I apply a thin layer over that area of skin and rub it in until it’s absorbed. Almost immediately I feel some relief from the dry itchiness. And then within a day or so the plaque usually calms down, leaving just a reddish patch behind.