Emollients, moisturizers, and keratolytic agents in psoriasis

Clin Dermatol. Jul-Aug 2008;26(4):380-6. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2008.01.015.


Emollients, moisturizers, and keratolytic agents are essential in the topical treatment of psoriasis. They are adjuvants for classic treatments and help to reduce the scale load of individual patients. The major role for emollients and moisturizers is the supportive role in normalizing hyperproliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis; furthermore, they exert anti-inflammatory effects, for example, through physiologic lipids. Subsequently, an improved barrier function and stratum corneum hydration makes the epidermis more resistant to external stressors and reduces the induction of Koebner phenomena. Most of the emollients are lipid-rich (sometimes oily). The keratolytic agents, especially salicylic acid, and higher concentration of urea should be used in the initial keratolytic phase, whereas moisturizing products and emollients are especially suitable in the intermediate phase and the chronic/remission phase of psoriasis. They should be combined with bath oils.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Emollients / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hydroxy Acids / therapeutic use
  • Keratolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy*
  • Salicylic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Urea / therapeutic use


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Emollients
  • Hydroxy Acids
  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Urea
  • Salicylic Acid