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Coconut Oil for Psoriasis: Is It Effective?

Posted on March 17, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Diane M. Horowitz, M.D.
Article written by
Victoria Menard

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

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 skin conditions such as psoriasis. A study conducted in 2018 found that coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties that suppress inflammatory markers, which could help protect the skin from the inflammation characteristic of psoriasis.

Research has shown virgin coconut oil to be a safe and effective moisturizer for most people. Moisturizers — also known as emollients — keep the skin hydrated. They can be highly beneficial in managing psoriasis symptoms like flaking, itching, and redness. 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 worsen symptoms instead of improving them. As one member cautioned, “I started to use natural coconut oil on my skin for a week, but it burned my skin.”

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

MyPsoriasisTeam Members on Coconut Oil for Psoriasis

Many MyPsoriasisTeam members have shared their experiences using coconut oil 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 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 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 member shared that they use a combination of coconut oil and argan oil on their hair and scalp after using a Clobetasol liquid solution: “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. Coconut oil has a melting point of 78 F, 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 mixing a bit of Vaseline and coconut oil 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 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 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.

Meet Your Team

Managing psoriasis symptoms can be a challenge. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. Here, more than 89,000 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 MyPsoriasisTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Diane M. Horowitz, M.D. is an internal medicine and rheumatology specialist. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about her here.
Victoria Menard is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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