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Does Using a Coffee Scrub Work for Psoriasis?

Posted on July 15, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Diane M. Horowitz, M.D.
Article written by
Scarlett Bergam, M.P.H.

If you’re one of the 6.5 million Americans living with psoriasis, you may be considering natural remedies to calm itchy, scaly skin and remove dead skin cells. One natural remedy may involve the use of a body scrub made out of coffee grounds, either homemade or store-bought.

“Has anyone tried the coffee scrubs that are on the market at the moment?” one MyPsoriasisTeam member asked.

Before you consider using coffee scrubs as a complementary treatment, it’s important to get an idea about the safety and effectiveness of these options for people with psoriasis.

Understanding Psoriasis

As someone living with psoriasis, you know that the condition is characterized by scales and plaques — raised lesions on the skin. These lesions commonly show up on the scalp and joints, in body folds, and even on the tongue and nails. The accompanying symptoms — and the pain, itchiness, and swelling that go along with them — can be frustrating and may reduce your quality of life.

Dermatologists typically prescribe topical medications like corticosteroids, vitamin D, retinoids, salicylic acid, and coal tar to treat psoriasis. You may also receive different kinds of light therapy, as well as oral or injected anti-inflammatory or disease-modifying therapies.

If your prescribed medications are not working, or if you are experiencing bad side effects, you may be searching for a more natural solution to clear your psoriasis flares.

Integrative Approaches for Psoriasis

The National Psoriasis Foundation describes natural, integrative approaches to care that you can try as a complement to your prescribed treatment regimen and under the supervision of a doctor. You shouldn’t try home remedies if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have other preexisting health conditions. These remedies are not studied in the same way as medications, so the safety and efficacy of these therapies are unknown. Consult with your physician before trying this approach. Please note that the National Psoriasis Foundation does not endorse these therapies.

Natural remedies to manage skin irritation due to psoriasis include:

  • Aloe vera — For redness and scaling
  • Apple cider vinegar — For scalp itch
  • Oils like tea tree oil, olive oil, and coconut oil — For itchiness and dryness
  • Capsaicin — To reduce pain and inflammation
  • Himalayan or Dead Sea salt soak — To remove scales
  • Sugar scrub — To exfoliate
  • Oat pastes or baths — To reduce redness and itchiness
  • Turmeric supplements — To minimize psoriasis flares

Members of MyPsoriasisTeam have described other soaps, scrubs, oils, and types of milk that they have tried or hope to try:

  • “I heard on the radio that shark liver oil is good but is really hard to get.”
  • “I’ve tried primrose oil and it brought my psoriasis down dramatically.”
  • “I was wondering if anyone ever heard about donkey milk?”
  • “Is anyone using True Enlightenment Scalp Scrub for their head? I started using it for my flaky scalp in February and it’s all cleared up!”

Home remedies for psoriasis can come with risks. Although you may find that one or more of these remedies is helpful for you, others may irritate your skin even more. There are no concise recommendations regarding what quantities and frequencies of these remedies are safe and effective. Further, you may find yourself paying large amounts of money for products that may or may not work.

Remember to always speak to your health care team before starting any new treatments, including natural approaches.

The Beneficial Effects of Coffee on Skin

Coffee contains antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. It has long been used on the skin and hair in various forms — not only for psoriasis but also for exfoliation, acne treatment, and improved circulation. Coffee contains caffeic acid, which has been researched regarding its ability to boost collagen levels, minimize aging, inhibit bad bacteria, and treat skin disorders.

Because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, coffee can increase your natural collagen and elastin, two proteins that can firm up the skin while keeping it hydrated. The caffeine content has additional temporary effects on tightening the skin. However, coffee scrubs have not been sufficiently studied in people with psoriasis.

Using Coffee Scrubs

Some people with psoriasis may be interested in using coffee as an exfoliant — a rub that can remove dead or dried skin cells from the skin. If you want to try mixing coffee grounds with other ingredients to create a scrub, talk to your dermatologist first.

You may also look into store-bought remedies if you don’t want to make your own scrub. “I was thinking of trying the Frank Body coffee scrub — would be good to know if it actually helps,” one MyPsoriasisTeam member wrote.

Unlike natural scrubs, the options available online or in stores typically contain additional ingredients that you might not be able to find in your kitchen cabinet, including almond oil and vitamin E, which have their own unique skin properties. They claim to be beneficial for a range of skin conditions, including cellulite, dry skin, and eczema, but they are not FDA approved to treat any skin disorders.

Be aware of any allergies you may have, and check the ingredients accordingly to ensure they’re free of allergens. For example, many scrubs contain nuts. Also, remember that these products have not been tested in people with psoriasis or other skin disorders, so use them with caution.

Ask Your Doctor

Research has not yet shown whether coffee scrubs work for people with psoriasis. If you want to try a scrub, speak to your doctor first to see how it might interact with your current topical medications. If your doctor approves, start with a natural, homemade version on a small area of healthy skin and assess your body’s response. If it works for you, you may want to slowly incorporate it into your current skin care routine.

Talk With Others Who Understand

On MyPsoriasisTeam, the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones, more than 109,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis. Here, finding home remedies to alleviate inflammation is a commonly discussed topic.

Are you looking for ways to find relief from psoriasis symptoms? Have you ever tried a coffee scrub? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

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.
Scarlett Bergam, M.P.H. is a medical student at George Washington University and a former Fulbright research scholar in Durban, South Africa. Learn more about her here.

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