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Does Witch Hazel Help Psoriasis?

Posted on February 14, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A.
Article written by
Aiden Lindow

Many MyPsoriasisTeam members have looked into home remedies that can ease the symptoms of psoriasis. From essential oils to aloe vera, members have tried a variety of supplements, moisturizers, oils, and more to complement their prescribed psoriasis treatments. Witch hazel is one of the home remedies members have used to alleviate the dryness of their inflamed and itchy skin.

Although witch hazel cannot cure psoriasis, some members have found that it is useful for managing their symptoms. Here, we explore the potential benefits of witch hazel for treating psoriasis symptoms, including how to try it safely. Before trying any home remedies, including witch hazel, consult with your doctor or dermatologist.

What Is Witch Hazel?

Witch hazel is one of the many names of the plant called Hamamelis virginiana, which grows in North America. This fragrant flower resembles a spider. Witch hazel’s other names include winterbloom, snapping hazelnut, tobacco wood, water-witch, striped alder, and spotted alder.

The witch hazel plant is commonly distilled into an extract that takes the form of an ointment or toner (a hydrating cleansing liquid). People use witch hazel to treat a wide variety of skin care issues. Witch hazel is not just used for skin cleansing or hydration — you may also find witch hazel in over-the-counter products intended to help with hemorrhoids, alleviate insect bites, and manage symptoms of psoriasis and contact dermatitis (a type of eczema caused by coming into contact with a triggering substance).

Can Witch Hazel Help Treat Psoriasis Symptoms?

There is no cure for psoriasis at this time, and the United States Food and Drug Administration must approve a medication before it can be considered an effective treatment for a health condition. That said, research has found that witch hazel may be useful in alleviating skin symptoms in people with psoriasis.

Research has shown that witch hazel has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiseptic (antimicrobial) properties. It is also an astringent, meaning it causes the skin cells to contract (tighten). Witch hazel’s beneficial properties can be attributed to its tannins — substances that have been found to reduce inflammatory activity. A 2011 study concluded that witch hazel has significant anti-inflammatory effects. This property could be helpful for people with psoriasis, as psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes widespread (systemic) inflammation.

How To Use Witch Hazel With Psoriasis

Some people find that using witch hazel on the affected areas of the skin can help ease the symptoms of psoriasis. Members of MyPsoriaisTeam have shared their experiences with the product.

“Witch hazel stops the itching,” wrote one member, “and is also an antiseptic.” One member put it simply: “I love my witch hazel toner!” Another shared that witch hazel was their “new friend” and that they applied it with cotton balls everywhere but their feet.

Members describe using witch hazel in different ways. As one wrote, “In between my medications, I soak my feet and hands in witch hazel and hydrogen peroxide … I use disposable gloves with steroid cream or lotion with witch hazel mixed in. I make my own lotion.”

Another shared, “I’ve read up about holistic treatments but had never tried witch hazel before … I saw witch hazel [at the store] as antibiotic wipes and in a bottle in liquid form. I bought them both, figuring I’ll try anything at this point.” One member shared that they use witch hazel alongside “organic apple cider vinegar as a rinse for my scalp.”

Witch hazel also comes in different types of products, from bottled toners to liquid-soaked cotton pads. Some members have said they prefer witch hazel antibiotic wipes, like one member who used the wipes on their arms, and others have come up with inventive and individualized treatments like “nonalcoholic witch hazel and vegetable glycerin in a 50/50 mix.”

As always, consult closely with your doctor or dermatologist before trying witch hazel and report any side effects like skin irritation or an allergic reaction.

What To Keep in Mind When Using Witch Hazel

Ask your dermatologist for their medical advice before incorporating new products or treatments into your skin care regimen — even if they are natural. Once you have been given the go-ahead, there are still some things to keep in mind when applying witch hazel to psoriatic skin.

Some dermatologists warn that alcohol-based witch hazel products shouldn’t be overused, as alcohol can lead to further dryness of the skin. You may want to avoid witch hazel products that contain alcohol, as well as any other allergens that may trigger your symptoms.

Members have reported some mild side effects after applying witch hazel. As one wrote, “Have you tried witch hazel? It’ll burn for a few seconds, but it does take the itching away.” It may help to talk through your options with a dermatologist who is familiar with your sensitive skin.

Members have shared that they patch test witch hazel before using it on large areas of skin. Patch testing allows you to gauge your reaction to a product and note any irritation that develops. As one member wrote, “I used it in the wipe form and rubbed it into patches until I thought I’d used up the moisture from the wipe. I woke up this morning and had no bad reaction to it.”

Find Your Team

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 102,000 members come together to ask questions, discuss how they manage their symptoms, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.

Have you tried witch hazel to manage your psoriasis symptoms? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below or by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A. is the clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Aiden Lindow is a writer at MyHealthTeam with experience writing content in the medical and health care space. Learn more about him here.

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