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Coconut Oil for Psoriasis: Is It Effective?

Medically reviewed by Kelsey Stalvey, PharmD
Written by Victoria Menard
Updated on February 20, 2024

When it comes to psoriasis, some people are so eager to find relief that they’re open to trying just about anything. This strategy includes exploring various treatments, even some that might sound unconventional. One of these potential remedies is coconut oil, known to soothe irritated skin.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, and although there is no cure yet, certain treatments and at-home remedies may help you relieve symptoms like dry skin, itchiness, and scaling.

Is coconut oil good for itching? Many members of MyPsoraisisTeam have tried coconut oil — an oil pressed from fresh or dried coconut meat — to manage their psoriasis symptoms alongside traditional treatments. Here, we’ll consider the potential benefits of coconut oil and how it can be used to manage psoriasis symptoms.

Research on Coconut Oil and Psoriasis

Research suggests that coconut oil may help improve skin symptoms in people with chronic (long-term) skin conditions like psoriasis. One study found that coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that suppress inflammatory markers, which could help protect the skin from the inflammation caused by psoriasis.

Research has shown virgin coconut oil to be a safe and effective moisturizer. Moisturizers — also known as emollients — keep the skin hydrated. They can be highly beneficial in managing psoriasis symptoms like flaking, itching, and skin discoloration. Although over-the-counter moisturizers like coconut oil may not be a substitute for prescription psoriasis medication, they help keep the skin hydrated and allow it to heal.

Potential Risks

In rare cases, some people may develop an allergic reaction (allergic dermatitis) to coconut oil. For these individuals, using coconut oil could make the symptoms worse instead of improving them. As one MyPsoriasisTeam member cautioned, “I started to use natural coconut oil on my skin for a week, but it burnt my skin.”

Everyone’s psoriasis is different. What is helpful for another person may not help your psoriasis symptoms. Always talk to your doctor before beginning a new treatment or product, even if it’s natural.

Coconut Oil for Scalp Psoriasis Reviews

Many MyPsoriasisTeam members have shared their experiences using coconut oil on affected areas to soothe and manage their psoriasis symptoms. As one member wrote, “Coconut oil works well as a lotion because of my very dry skin.” They found that using coconut oil in combination with vitamin D was the most effective.

Another member wrote, “Coconut oil and vitamin C are really helping my elbows.”

Other MyPsoriasisTeam members have shared their praises for coconut oil. As one member wrote, “I must recommend coconut oil. Not only is it a pure moisturizer, but it also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.”

Another similarly appreciated coconut oil’s moisturizing benefits, writing, “I’ve been using coconut oil on my skin … My body is as soft as a baby’s bottom.”

Yet another member found that coconut oil, along with sunlight, helped improve dryness on their arms.

For Scalp Psoriasis

As some MyPsoriasisTeam members have noted, coconut oil may help manage symptoms of scalp psoriasis.

“I get psoriasis on my scalp,” wrote one member, “and have found that other medical solutions have worked, such as Dovobet, but this medication thinned my hair and made it fall out. … Coconut oil, on the other hand, seemed to work slightly slower (about a week) but strengthened my hair and made my scalp less irritated, once the dry skin had cleared.”

This member also noted the smell is pleasant and the oil is easy to remove, unlike some products for scalp psoriasis.

Another MyPsoriasisTeam member shared that they use a combination of coconut oil and argan oil on their hair and scalp after using a clobetasol liquid solution, writing, “It helps!”

How To Use Coconut Oil for Psoriasis

If your doctor gives you the OK to try coconut oil as a complementary treatment for your psoriasis, they may recommend that you apply it topically (on the skin). Coconut oil has a melting point of 78 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is often solid at room temperature. When applying coconut oil to the skin, you may need to warm it in the palm of your hand.

One member found that coconut oil can be difficult to apply, so they shared this tip: “If I use a blender, it aerates the coconut oil and makes it less oily and easier to apply. It might feel a bit greasy at first, but that goes away fast.”

Coconut Oil Topical Lotion

Some members like to blend their coconut oil with other ingredients to create a topical lotion, such as by mixing a bit of coconut oil and Vaseline mixture for a lotion that is very soothing.

One member shared that they used organic coconut oil with a tea tree oil mixture to help their itching and redness. Their recipe? “A teaspoon of coconut oil and a few drops (three or four) of tea tree oil. Mix, rub over the skin, and leave on for about 30 minutes. … Works for me.”

Another MyPsoriasisTeam member’s recipe also contained tea tree oil: “I’ve had some success with Aveeno lotion mixed with about a teaspoon of kukui nut oil, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and three to four drops of tea tree oil. I usually put the oils into the entire lotion container and shake it all up.” As this member shared, “It helped me with plaque psoriasis. After it cleared up, I continue to use it as a moisturizer.” Coconut oil can be used as a carrier oil when using tea tree oil.

Coconut Oil on the Hands

One member found that coconut oil worked well for them when applied topically to the hands. “I have used it on my hands,” they wrote, “then put thin, white cotton gloves on.”

Bathing With Coconut Oil

Some members have found it helpful to add coconut oil to their baths. As one wrote, “I like to add some coconut oil to my bathwater and soak for 10 to 15 minutes. I love how much it relieves some of the symptoms.”

Another member shared that they use coconut oil in their baths and apply it in a topical cream after bathing.

How To Store Coconut Oil

Generally, coconut oil should be stored in a cool, dark location in a sealed container or in the refrigerator. Virgin coconut oil can last for two to three years when stored properly without exposure to heat or light. If coconut oil shows signs of spoilage — including mold, a yellowish tint, or an unpleasant smell — do not use it and immediately dispose of it.

Talk to a Dermatologist

Although coconut oil has shown promise in treating psoriasis, its effectiveness can vary from person to person. It may serve as a natural addition to your psoriasis management routine, but you’ll need to check with your dermatologist for an approach to address your specific needs.

Find Your Team

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. Here, more than 125,000 members from across the world come together to ask questions, share advice, and find support from others who understand life with psoriasis.

Have you tried coconut oil for your psoriasis symptoms? Share your experience and tips in the comments below or by posting on your Activities page.

    Updated on February 20, 2024
    All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

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    Kelsey Stalvey, PharmD received her Doctor of Pharmacy from Pacific University School of Pharmacy in Portland, Oregon, and went on to complete a one-year postgraduate residency at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida. Learn more about her here.
    Victoria Menard is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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