How to Safely Remove Psoriasis Scales featuring Dr. Daveluy
July 29, 2022
Removing psoriasis scales can have benefits, but don’t pick or peel them, which can trigger flares. There are several safe and effective ways to free your skin of flakes.
Psoriasis scales, the gray or silvery flakes of dead skin that collect on the surface of the plaques that characterize the condition, can be itchy, uncomfortable, and embarrassing – so much so that you may be tempted to pick, peel, or scrape them off. However, while there are some good reasons to remove scales, taking your fingernails to them isn’t one of them, as you risk damaging the skin they’re attached to. This “can trigger flares of more patches of psoriasis, a reaction known as the Koebner phenomenon,” said Steven Daveluy, M.D., Wayne Health provider, assistant professor and program director at the Wayne State University department of dermatology.
The Benefits of Removing Scales
Scales do naturally exfoliate (shed), but it can take a while. And although the only way to safely get rid of psoriasis scales is to follow a treatment plan that addresses the inflammation at the core of psoriasis plaques, there are a few things you can do to help things along — and a number of potential advantages to doing that, according to Dr. Daveluy:
Your medication will sink in better. If you use a topical treatment such as a prescription-strength steroid, a thick layer of scales can block the medication from being absorbed fully. Removing scales allows topical psoriasis medications to reach their target more easily.
You’ll look better. Removing visible scales can help relieve self-consciousness and reduce social anxiety — both typical of people with psoriasis. A review published in Arthritis Care and Research in March 2019 found shame and fear of being viewed as unclean or contagious were among the top six quality-of-life issues many people with psoriasis deal with. This may be especially true of scalp psoriasis, which can shower shoulders with white flakes that are easily mistaken for dandruff.
Your body will feel better. Psoriasis scales can be itchy and painful. A buildup of scales around joints can make it hard to move freely. Removing scales can help ease discomfort and improve range of motion.
You may have fewer flares. Thick, unmanaged scales are more likely to crack, tear, or rip away before they’re ready to flake off naturally, injuring skin and triggering the Koebner phenomenon. Keeping layers of scales thin and flexible helps prevent unnecessary trauma to your skin.
Read, “How to Safely Remove Psoriasis Scales” from Everyday Health.
Make an appointment with a Wayne Health dermatologist.