The Best Types of Socks for Psoriasis: Fabrics, Gel, and More | MyPsoriasisTeam

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The Best Types of Socks for Psoriasis: Fabrics, Gel, and More

Medically reviewed by Zeba Faroqui, M.D.
Written by Emily Wagner, M.S.
Updated on March 1, 2024

Psoriasis can develop on any part of your body, including your feet. Plaques or lesions on the feet can be particularly bothersome, making it painful to stand or walk. You may find that a certain type of sock or an insert helps you stay comfortable when your psoriasis is flaring.

MyPsoriasisTeam members have asked others what types of socks they wear to manage their symptoms. “I am having issues with the bottoms of my feet — they feel raw and very unhappy in socks and shoes all day,” one member wrote. “Anyone know of a good brand of socks that don’t aggravate our sensitive skin?”

In this article, we’ll discuss what types of socks and fabrics are recommended by people living with psoriasis.

How Does Psoriasis Affect the Feet?

When you think of your psoriasis symptoms, you might focus on the more commonly affected areas, such as the scalp, elbows, or knees. However, plaque psoriasis can also develop on the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands. This condition is known as palmoplantar psoriasis (PPP), and it affects from 12 percent to 16 percent of people with psoriasis.

Palmoplantar psoriasis can cause a variety of symptoms, which vary among individuals. PPP may appear as:

  • Thick scales or plaques that cover patches of red, brown, or purple skin
  • White or yellow pustules (painful, swollen bumps containing pus)
  • Thickened, cracked, dry skin that covers the heels and may bleed easily
  • Burning or itching skin on the foot
  • Nail psoriasis on toenails, which causes pitting and lifting from the nail bed
  • Flaking or peeling skin around and between the toes

It’s important to practice proper foot and skin care if you’re living with a type of psoriasis like PPP. Be sure to wash your feet regularly with warm water and a gentle soap to avoid drying out your skin or triggering a flare.

To combat dry feet and cracked heels, use a gentle lotion for extra hydration. Your dermatologist may also prescribe a topical treatment to help clear your skin. If you’re interested in trying exfoliation to reduce the buildup of skin cells that cause plaque, first check with your dermatologist — as you should before trying any new product.

Choosing the Right Type of Fabric

The wide range of fabrics used in clothing can make it challenging to determine the best option.

One MyPsoriasisTeam member asked, “Anyone have ideas on good, comfy, warm, loose socks? My legs are so bad that socks are difficult.” For those with psoriasis on their feet, choosing the right fabric can make a world of difference in symptoms and comfort level.

Researchers have investigated which fabric is best for those with psoriasis on their feet. Two small studies published in the International Journal of Physiatry found no difference in symptom improvement when comparing cotton socks to synthetic fabric. However, some participants reported that they preferred synthetic fabric over cotton. More studies are needed to determine whether fabric choices make a difference in psoriasis lesions and other symptoms.

The Psoriasis Association recommends wearing socks made with 100 percent cotton. Unlike synthetic fabrics (such as polyester, Spandex, and nylon), cotton is breathable, which can discourage sweating. Breathable cotton is important for preventing not only sweaty feet but also infections. Many MyPsoriasisTeam members wear cotton socks during the day and also at night. One shared, “I normally always wear cotton socks.”

Other members have found that gel socks are helpful. “I’ve been wearing gel socks — they are great. They keep my feet soft and supple, and they can be washed as well,” one member wrote. Gel socks are made with a gel lining that releases essential oils, aloe vera, and other moisturizers.

Wearing Cotton Socks To Lock in Moisture

Many MyPsoriasisTeam members recommend applying moisturizer to their feet at night, then wearing cotton socks to lock in hydration. For those with PPP that also affects the hands, the same technique can be used with cotton gloves. This is a form of wet wrap therapy, and it’s commonly used to treat other skin conditions, such as eczema.

Following are recommendations from MyPsoriasisTeam members:

  • “My long socks help keep the lotion on. Leggings work well, too, and both are more comfortable than the Saran wrap or sauna suits I’ve used.”
  • “Try Vaseline and wrapping socks or gloves over it.”
  • “Calcitriol ointment for my hands and feet with cotton socks and gloves worn at bedtime.”
  • “My feet hurt, itch, burn, and get really rough. I use CeraVe cream. I put it on my feet really thick and put cotton socks on, and it really helps.”
  • “Have been using QV ointment on my hands and feet, using moisturizing socks and cling film, and my hands and feet are clear now!”

For best results, pull on a fresh pair of socks after you’ve cleaned your feet and applied a moisturizer of your choice (petroleum jelly, shea butter, or a thick cream or lotion). Wear the socks overnight to allow the moisturizer to absorb as much as possible.

Shoe Inserts for Reducing Symptoms

Research shows that psoriasis flares can occur after injury or trauma to the skin. This is known as the Koebner phenomenon, and it can affect the skin on your feet. Friction from walking or standing throughout the day can irritate your skin and may cause flares.

There may be some benefits to wearing well-fitting socks and finding inserts that make your shoes tighter. A snugger fit can help reduce friction between your skin and your shoes to lower your risk of irritation and potential flares.

Compression Socks for Psoriatic Arthritis Affecting the Feet

Around 30 percent of people with psoriasis also have psoriatic arthritis (PsA), per the National Psoriasis Foundation. Along with skin symptoms, PsA may cause joint pain and swelling affecting your feet and ankles. Many people with PsA have plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the muscle along the bottom of the foot), heel pain, and swollen toes.

Some MyPsoriasisTeam members have asked others how they manage foot pain amid psoriasis and PsA. “I’m not only in pain, but my skin is feeling like someone used it for a dartboard,” one member said. “Has anyone ever had problems with blood circulation, or at least the feeling of not getting blood to your feet?”

“Soaking in Epsom salts each night helps,” one member replied. “Sit and put your feet up whenever possible. Compression socks have helped me.”

Another shared, “Grease your feet up well (with a zinc-based cream) and put on a compression sock.”

Compression socks may help ease PsA joint symptoms, especially if you have swollen, painful joints. These socks are designed to apply the most pressure around your feet and ankles, decreasing in pressure as they move toward your knee. Compression socks come in several lengths and grades of pressure. Your dermatologist or rheumatologist can help you find the socks that work best for treating your symptoms.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 125,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Which socks have you tried that help your psoriasis? Do you have a favorite fabric or a tip for wearing socks? Share your experience with this condition in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Updated on March 1, 2024
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

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Zeba Faroqui, M.D. earned her medical degree from the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. Learn more about her here.
Emily Wagner, M.S. holds a Master of Science in biomedical sciences with a focus in pharmacology. She is passionate about immunology, cancer biology, and molecular biology. Learn more about her here.

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