Although psoriasis currently has no cure, certain treatments and natural remedies may help relieve skin symptoms like dryness, itchiness, and scaling. Some MyPsoriasisTeam members have tried castor oil — an oil made from the castor bean — as a complementary remedy alongside their prescribed treatments.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and the accelerated production of skin cells. Skin builds up more quickly than it can shed, causing patches of thickened, scaly skin that can crack, bleed, and itch — as well as other symptoms.
Here, we’ll consider the potential benefits of castor oil and how it may be used to manage psoriasis symptoms. As always, talk to your doctor or dermatologist before trying any new remedies for psoriasis, even natural ones. Notably, castor oil has not been studied for psoriasis in formal clinical trials.
Castor oil is an oil made from the castor bean (Ricinus communis) plant. It is composed mostly of its active ingredient, a fatty acid called ricinoleic acid, but it also contains oleic acid and linoleic acid. This oil has been used since ancient times and is now used in home remedies through supplements and topical application.
There isn’t much clear evidence about how castor oil works. Much evidence of its effectiveness can be traced back to folk or alternative medicine and word of mouth. However, some studies have suggested that castor oil may work on the immune system to reduce inflammation.
The ricinoleic acid in castor oil has been found to have analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically. Because psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, these properties could explain some of the reported benefits of castor oil in relieving psoriasis symptoms.
In people with psoriasis, white blood cells (lymphocytes) known as T cells become overactive and attack healthy skin tissues. In one study, participants applied castor oil for two weeks, five days a week. Participants’ mean total white blood cell counts normalized and were lower at the end of treatment than at baseline.
Other research suggests that castor oil may not be effectively absorbed through the skin when used topically, however.
Ultimately, it is not well understood how castor oil may benefit people with different health conditions, including psoriasis.
Castor oil is generally safe to use topically, and it is commonly used as an additive in cosmetic products. Human studies have determined that castor oil has few side effects and is not a significant skin irritant. However, you should talk to a health care professional before introducing castor oil into your psoriasis skin care routine. They will be able to advise you on any potential risks of using castor oil with psoriatic skin.
Some MyPsoriasisTeam members have found that castor oil has helped alleviate some of their psoriasis symptoms. “Castor oil is very soothing to my flare-ups,” reported one member.
Another member found that castor oil lasted longer than shea butter “and healed some places that scabbed from scratching.”
Members use castor oil in many different ways. “I have put organic castor oil on my eyebrows and eyelashes,” a member wrote. “It not only helps with the psoriasis but also encourages hair growth.”
Castor oil can be found over the counter at drugstores, likely close to laxative medications and supplements. There are several ways that castor oil can be used as a topical remedy. Because it doesn’t absorb completely into the skin like a moisturizing lotion, you may want to give it ample time to sit on the surface of your skin.
Some MyPsoriasisTeam members find that mixing castor oil with other ingredients is the most beneficial to their symptoms. One member with scalp psoriasis shared their recipe for a shampoo with castor oil:
This member advised to put the aloe in a blender, mix it very well, then add the ingredients one by one, mixing thoroughly after each. “Add some of your shampoo, the same amount or less, mixed well every time you use it,” they said.
They recommend applying the shampoo to a wet scalp and leaving it for 15 minutes, then washing. This member wrote that they use this mixture three to four times each week.
Another member described the benefits of applying the oil directly to their scalp each night. “I’ve tried everything over the years, but have recently started applying cold-pressed castor oil to my scalp and found it really helps,” they shared. “It’s a bit messy and leaves my hair greasy, but I apply it at night and wear a shower cap to bed.”
It is important that you talk to your doctor or dermatologist before trying castor oil or any other natural remedies, as certain ingredients may irritate or worsen your psoriasis symptoms.
MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and their loved ones. Here, more than 89,000 members come together to ask questions, share advice, and connect with others who understand life with psoriasis.
Have you tried castor oil as a complementary remedy for psoriasis? Share your experience with others in the comments below or by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.