People living with psoriasis sometimes turn to complementary and alternative therapies to help manage their condition as part of their treatment regimen. Among them are supplements that provide your body with additional collagen — a type of protein that plays a key role in the function of your bones, skin, joints, and other tissues. Some studies suggest collagen may indeed help with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), though more research is needed.
“Has anyone here tried collagen?” one MyPsoriasisTeam member asked. “I haven’t, but I’d like to try it,” another responded.
To evaluate whether collagen might be a good option for you, read on to discover what the research says. Importantly, if you do decide to try collagen supplements — or other types of complementary therapies — you should discuss them with your doctor to make sure they’re a good fit. Some of these treatments can have undesirable side effects or may not interact well with certain medications. Additionally, make sure to stick to the psoriasis treatment plan you’ve created with your health care team.
Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that makes up about 30 percent of the protein in the human body. It helps build connective tissue structures like the skin, muscles, and ligaments, allowing them to stay strong even when stretched. Like all proteins, collagen contains amino acids, building blocks that help damaged skin heal.
Even though our bodies make collagen naturally, sometimes our collagen production isn’t robust enough to keep our skin looking youthful and soft. Certain factors may reduce the amount of collagen that we make, including:
To bring collagen protein levels back up, some people choose to add collagen supplementation to their routines. This could mean using a topical cream, lotion, or moisturizer that contains the protein, or it might involve taking collagen orally.
The collagen in collagen supplements comes from animal sources, including beef and fish. Plant-based supplements are available that are believed to boost a person’s natural production of collagen with ingredients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc — but they don’t actually contain the protein.
Collagen has been studied to evaluate whether it has any benefits for people with a skin condition and those without. One study of 72 healthy women who received a supplement containing animal collagen, acerola fruit extract, vitamin C, zinc, vitamin E, and biotin. During the 12-week trial, participants had improved measures of healthy skin, including greater elasticity (ability to bounce back into place after being stretched), better hydration, and less roughness.
In addition, collagen is believed to contribute to joint health and reduce joint pain by providing extra lubrication in the tendons, joints, and ligaments. About 30 percent of people with psoriasis also have PsA, so maintaining strong joint health is important for people with the skin condition.
Keep in mind, however, that the research is mixed on whether collagen supplementation actually helps prevent arthritis or improves symptoms in those who have it.
In addition to serving as one of your skin’s building blocks, collagen is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, meaning it may help reduce inflammation. Because psoriasis causes inflammation, researchers have investigated whether collagen can help improve the health of skin cells and reduce psoriasis symptoms.
In one small study, 12 people with mild to moderate plaque psoriasis spread an ointment containing collagen from cows on their plaques every night for four to six weeks. The study authors observed significant improvement in participants’ skin itching, redness, cracking, peeling, and thickness during treatment.
More research is needed on whether collagen is safe and effective in people with psoriasis, so it’s important to talk with your dermatology team before trying any collagen-containing products, like creams or supplements.
The use of complementary treatments is a common discussion topic on MyPsoriasisTeam, where some members have found success by supplementing their diets with collagen. “After taking a few collagen tablets daily for a couple months, I am almost clear for the first time in 50 years,” wrote one member. Another said, “I add collagen to tea, and it clears my skin.”
“I recently started using a collagen powder supplement in my coffee every morning,” another member shared. “Collagen has really helped my inflammation too,” someone replied.
However, some members noted that collagen didn’t deliver the benefits they’d hoped for. “Collagen really helped me when I was taking it, but as soon as I stopped, my symptoms came right back,” one member wrote. Another said, “Collagen made my nails stronger, but that’s it.”
If you’re thinking about supplementing with collagen, you’ll need to take certain precautions — just as with all complementary therapies.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate supplements, so it’s difficult to know whether the collagen you’re taking actually contains the exact formulation you want or if it might produce negative side effects.
In addition, always ensure that collagen won’t interact poorly with your traditional treatments — collagen use should not take the place of medical advice or prevent you from following your prescribed regimen.
One good idea when trying a new therapy like collagen is to keep a journal to document your experience. That way, you can track any improvements you see, record interactions or side effects, and note whether you have any psoriasis flare-ups.
Even if you’re taking collagen, you should continue your psoriasis treatment regimen, including prescription medication and other therapies that your dermatologist recommends. In addition, don’t start supplementing with collagen without first getting medical advice.
If you’re interested in boosting your collagen intake but don’t want to use topical treatments or supplements, you can try to increase your collagen naturally. For starters, get enough sleep, limit your alcohol intake, exercise regularly, stop (or don’t start) smoking, and limit your exposure to the sun.
You can also consume foods and beverages that are naturally high in collagen, such as:
Some foods, like soy, eggs, dairy products, and legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and peanuts) are thought to help you produce more collagen.
If you want to boost the collagen in your body naturally, consider talking to a dietitian or nutritionist. They can provide suggestions on foods that may help increase collagen levels and potentially improve skin health. Note that it’s very difficult to overdose on collagen, but excessive protein intake can harm the kidneys over time.
MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 116,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.
Have you tried using collagen as a psoriasis remedy? Did it work for you? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.