Some people with psoriasis are curious about adding natural or plant-based products to their skin care regimens. One particular plant that MyPsoriasisTeam members have wondered about is aloe vera. Could it help with psoriasis? If so, how can you use it to get the most out of it?
Although natural or alternative therapies like aloe vera, Epsom salts, and Dead Sea salt won’t treat your underlying psoriasis, some may make your psoriasis symptoms feel better and heal or soften plaques. Here, we will take a look at the research on aloe vera for psoriasis, including how it may help and how it could be used. As always, talk to your dermatologist before incorporating a new product into your psoriasis-management regimen.
The aloe vera plant is a spiny succulent (similar to a cactus). It typically grows in warmer areas around the world, including subtropical locations like Arizona and Texas.
When you break its leaves, aloe vera produces a sticky gel that can be directly applied to the skin. This gel is often used as a home remedy for sunburns and wounds, as it is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe vera gel is also used as an additive in many commercial lotions and gels. It is a moisturizing component in many lotion products, and some people use it for everyday skin care.
Sometimes, people consume aloe vera gel orally, either on its own or mixed with a variety of other substances. Aloe vera may be consumed to help with weight loss, inflammatory bowel disease, and more, although research on these uses is contradictory and not extensive.
Aloe vera may be a useful natural remedy for people with symptoms of psoriasis and other skin conditions. Its moisturizing properties, for instance, may help soften scaly patches associated with plaque psoriasis. Because psoriatic skin may be more easily traumatized, aloe vera may help in wound healing.
However, the results of research on the plant are mixed, and more large, extensive studies are needed to determine the effectiveness of aloe vera in managing psoriasis. Some people choose to use it as a complementary therapy for psoriasis alongside their prescribed treatment plan, as it is unlikely to be a stand-alone treatment for psoriasis.
A 2019 systemic analysis of studies on aloe vera found the plant helped treat psoriasis. Some MyPsoriasisTeam members agree: “I have psoriasis on my face, and using an aloe vera product (fragrance-free) has been helping me a LOT,” wrote one member. Another shared, “I swear by aloe vera gel! I make a hair mask using aloe plus neem oil, castor oil, rosemary, and lavender.”
Another study compared using aloe vera with using 0.1 percent triamcinolone acetonide — a corticosteroid and a common topical (applied to the skin) psoriasis treatment. In this study, both therapies were effective, but the aloe vera was found to be more effective than the topical treatment.
Despite these findings, some studies indicate that aloe vera may not be as effective in managing psoriasis. In one study, aloe vera use reduced symptoms in 72.5 percent of people with psoriasis, but the placebo reduced it in 82.5 percent of cases. However, the researchers involved in this study suggest the possibility that they accidentally chose a placebo that is simply more effective than aloe at treating psoriasis. They also emphasize the fact that the aloe did, in fact, reduce symptoms for many of the people who used it.
Another systematic review of studies on using aloe vera for psoriasis indicates that putting aloe on the skin is usually tolerated well. It does caution, however, that it is impossible to determine whether or not aloe is effective at treating psoriasis given the studies that are currently available. More work needs to be done with a more formal methodology to determine whether it is effective — and, if so, how effective it is.
Before incorporating aloe vera into your skin care regimen, consult your dermatologist or another health care provider. This is especially important if you are currently experiencing a psoriasis flare-up. You and your dermatology team can come up with a plan that is as safe and effective as possible. Note that it is important to stick to your usual psoriasis treatments, even if you find that aloe vera helps improve your symptoms.
The best and safest way to use aloe vera to treat skin diseases like psoriasis is to use it right on your skin. The National Psoriasis Foundation suggests using aloe vera gel that contains at least 0.5 percent aloe vera, which can be purchased over the counter.
If you are worried about skin sensitivity, perform a patch test — apply the aloe cream or gel to a small area of skin first. Leave it for a couple of hours. If irritation or other negative reactions occur within 48 hours of exposure, it is likely best to avoid using the product on more widespread areas.
Once you know that aloe does not have negative side effects, start applying it where you have affected areas from psoriasis. Gently rub a small amount of the cream or gel into your skin, covering the psoriasis lesions and extending a small way out from the plaques on your skin.
The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends applying aloe vera no more than three times per day. You can consult your doctor for specific recommendations for your skin.
You can take aloe vera orally, but this has not been studied regarding psoriasis. Most of the time, people use this for stomach issues and other conditions. Because ingesting aloe vera is not known to be safe, it’s not recommended as a psoriasis treatment option. Because aloe vera seems to have some effects on the digestive system, it can change how your body absorbs nearly any medicine.
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Do you use aloe vera to manage your psoriasis symptoms? Have you considered using aloe, but you’re not sure if it’s the right option for you? Share your questions, thoughts, or tips in the comments below or by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.