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There are many natural treatments for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Some may soothe inflammation and possibly prevent psoriasis flare-ups, while others can help treat the dry skin, itching, and plaques associated with psoriasis. Natural treatments have undergone varying levels of scientific study, and some can have unwanted side effects. Therefore, it’s important to speak with your primary care provider or dermatologist before using any of them.
Several types of plant-derived moisturizers are popular to treat psoriasis. Coconut oil is produced by pressing coconut meat (the white innards of the coconut). It can be used as a cooking oil and as a moisturizer. A 2019 study found that coconut oil had anti-inflammatory properties for the skin and can inhibit levels of inflammatory proteins in the skin called cytokines. Coconut oil also helped improve the skin barrier by increasing the production of filaggrin, a protein that strengthens the skin. In addition, coconut oil has antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
Some MyPsoriasisTeam members have reported positive experiences with coconut oil: “My elbows are back to my skin color instead of bright red. It’s gotta be the coconut oil!”
Some people can experience allergic reactions to coconut products. If you’d like to use coconut oil to treat your psoriasis, use virgin coconut oil instead of refined coconut oil. Virgin oil isn’t heated during processing, which means that it contains more bioactive ingredients, such as vitamin E and antioxidants. Read more about coconut oil for psoriasis here.
Other plant-derived moisturizers that are popular for treating psoriasis symptoms include:
Essential oils are extracts of certain chemicals found in plants. Leaves, flowers, roots, and stems are pressed and steamed to produce small amounts of fragrant oil. These oils can be burned for scent or diluted in other types of oil (called carrier oil) and applied to the skin.
There are many types of essential oils, though few have been researched specifically as a psoriasis treatment. An experiment using bitter apricot oil to prevent the growth of psoriatic skin cells found promising effects, but the experiment involved cells in petri dishes, not humans.
Another study found that essential oil from the balsam tree improved psoriasis symptoms, but that study only involved three people. Some more popular essential oils, such as tea tree oil, have proven antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects, and those effects might help in psoriasis treatment.
MyPsoriasisTeam members have had mixed experiences using essential oils as a psoriasis treatment. “As an aromatherapist, I tried all sorts of oil combinations, but nothing really has helped,” one said.
However, another reported good results in calming itchy skin: “I use Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Oil Soap. It comes in a concentrate. I use it all over my body. Very soothing.”
If you’d like to use topical essential oils, always remember to dilute them in a carrier oil (such as olive oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil) before putting them on your skin. Some essential oils can cause irritation when applied topically.
Read more about essential oils for psoriasis here.
Aloe vera is a spiny plant that is common around the world. When you break its leaves, it produces a sticky gel that can be directly applied to the skin as a home remedy for burns and wounds. Aloe vera gel is also used as an additive in many commercial lotions and gels.
A 2019 systemic analysis of studies on aloe vera found the plant was helpful in treating psoriasis. Some MyPsoriasisTeam members agree: “I have psoriasis on my face, and using aloe vera product (fragrance-free) has been helping me a LOT,” wrote one member.
Another shared, “I swear by aloe vera gel! I make a hair mask using aloe plus neem oil, castor oil, rosemary, and lavender.”
The National Psoriasis Foundation suggests using aloe vera gel that contains at least 0.5 percent aloe vera. This gel can be applied to the skin up to three times a day.
The spice turmeric is used in traditional Indian medicine to treat skin conditions. Studies have shown that curcumin — the chemical that gives turmeric its bright yellow color — has anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric oil can be applied as a topical treatment directly onto the skin. A small study of people with mild to moderate psoriasis found that applying turmeric extract gel to their skin helped heal psoriasis lesions with very few side effects. Some MyPsoriasisTeam members report positive results from using turmeric oil: “I've used turmeric oil on the joints of my hands and it works quite well.”
Oral turmeric supplements may also be helpful as a psoriasis treatment, although the evidence is mixed. One study found that people who added a turmeric supplement to steroid treatment had fewer inflammation markers than those who took a steroid alone. However, a small study found that the results of taking oral supplements were uneven: A few participants showed a good response, but it might have been caused by other factors or a placebo effect. The researchers did note that the turmeric supplements caused very few side effects.
However, turmeric supplements can interfere with blood thinners, drugs that reduce stomach acid, and diabetes drugs. As with any supplement, speak with a medical professional before starting turmeric supplements.
You can also get extra turmeric through your diet. “I occasionally make an anti-inflammatory turmeric latte that I drink before bed (it also contains cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, and coconut oil). I also use the spice in my food,” a MyPsoriasisTeam member said.
Combining turmeric with black pepper (which contains a complementary chemical, capsaicin) or cooking it with a fat source might help you to better absorb turmeric into your bloodstream.
Read more about turmeric for psoriasis here.
Apple cider vinegar can soothe itching from scalp psoriasis and can be used as an alternative to shampoo. “I soak my hair in organic apple cider vinegar for 10 minutes, rinse off, and use coal tar shampoo,” a MyPsoriasisTeam member reported. “Be careful to put vinegar on in the shower — and keep it out of your eyes.”
The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends using organic apple cider vinegar. If you experience skin irritation, dilute the vinegar with an equal amount of water, and don’t use apple cider vinegar on skin with open wounds or cracks.
Read more about apple cider vinegar for psoriasis here.
These salts aren’t the same as sea salt, which is the sodium chloride used in food. Both Dead Sea and Epsom salts contain the mineral magnesium chloride, which is similar to table salt but isn’t useful as a food seasoning. Magnesium chloride has been found to keep the skin moisturized and reduce inflammation.
MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and their loved ones. Here, more than 93,000 members come together to ask questions, share advice, and connect with others who understand life with psoriasis.
Which natural remedies have you found helpful for psoriasis? Share your experience with others in the comments below or by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.