Psoriasis (sore-EYE-ah-sis) is an irritating and chronic skin disease which develops when the body’s immune system goes haywire and sends incorrect signals to the skin cells triggering them to multiply swiftly.
The skin cells multiply rapidly at a pace of days instead of weeks, and a thick layer of new skin cells covers the skin as there is no sloughing off of excess skin cells.
This piled-up layer of cells appears as patches on the skin, characterized by redness and irritation, and is often accompanied by thick, flaky, itchy, silver-white patches that are sometimes painful. Psoriasis is not contagious and is not acquired by touching a psoriasis patient.
Other symptoms include itching, inflammation, and pain. The problem mostly occurs on the knees, elbows, palms, and scalp, but can also appear on other parts of the body.
Psoriasis is considered as an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in the body, thereby changing the life cycle of skin cells.
Normally, skin cells mature and die about once a month. But, in case of psoriasis, they tend to mature and die in less than a week, thus causing a build-up of dead skin cells.
The condition is often triggered by factors like emotional stress, dry skin, sunburn, smoking, alcohol consumption, environmental triggers, viral or bacterial infections and certain medications like beta-blockers, malarial preventives, lithium, and ibuprofen.
It also tends to run in families and becomes worse in those with a weak immune system. Most types of psoriasis go through cycles of flare-ups and remissions.
Although there is no cure for psoriasis and it is difficult and frustrating to treat, you can use some natural and effective home remedies to control the symptoms and prevent infection. Also, do consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for psoriasis.
1. Colloidal Oatmeal
Colloidal oatmeal refers to oats that have been finely ground and then suspended in any liquid like water, gel, etc. While in the liquid medium, the oatmeal remains suspended and dispersed uniformly.
The advantage of colloidal oatmeal is that it can be easily applied and quickly absorbed. Thus, it is very beneficial for skin disorders like dry skin, eczema, and psoriasis.
Many of its skin beneficial properties are because of the presence of therapeutic chemicals present in it. The starches and beta glucans are responsible for its water retention and protective function.
Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities are due to phenols; whereas the saponins are mainly responsible for its cleansing activity.
All these functional properties make colloidal oatmeal a wonderful cleanser, moisturizer, buffer and a soothing, protective anti-inflammatory agent for treatment of psoriasis symptoms.
- An oatmeal bath helps hydrate the skin layers, reduce both itching and inflammation. It also softens and soothes the skin, as well as calms the nerves. Thoroughly mix one cup of finely powdered oatmeal in a bathtub filled with warm water. Soak in this oatmeal bath for 15 to 20 minutes daily during flare-ups. When you get out of the bath, rinse with lukewarm water, pat dry your skin and generously apply a good moisturizer.
- Another option is to wrap two handfuls of rolled oats in a muslin cloth, place it in the bathtub and run hot water over it. Next, add some cold water to bring the bath water to a comfortable temperature and squeeze the oat bag. The water will turn milky. Soak in this water for about 10 minutes. You can use the oat bag as a gentle cleanser while soaking. After this bath, pat dry and moisturize your skin. You can do this daily during flare-ups. Make sure to discard the oat bag after every use.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, apple cider vinegar (ACV), which is used as a disinfectant since ancient times, may alleviate the itchy feeling and irritation associated with psoriasis.
Apple cider vinegar helps restore the natural pH balance of the skin and helps prevent infections.
- Mix one teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it twice daily, especially during flare-ups. This remedy is also good for overall health as it detoxifies the body.
- Mix apple cider vinegar with water in the ratio of 1:1 and apply it only to unbroken skin for relief. Avoid application on cracked or bleeding areas. If it causes irritation, do rinse it off.
- Alternatively, mix together one part apple cider vinegar and three parts lukewarm water. Soak a washcloth in this solution and use it as a compress for about one minute. Repeat several times a day during flare-ups.
You should see results within a few weeks if it works for you.
3. Cayenne Pepper
This hot red pepper comes with a full host of health benefits and is very handy for your psoriasis malady! Capsaicin is the main active ingredient in cayenne pepper that makes them hot. Researchers in 2010 reported that capsaicin may help reduce symptoms of inflammation, pain, redness, and scaling that are commonly seen in psoriasis.
You can use capsaicin containing cream for this. You can get it online or from your local health store. Apply capsaicin containing cream to areas where you have psoriasis.
Caution: Please do not apply the capsaicin ointment on the face. Please check if you are allergic to capsaicin ointment as it may cause a burning sensation for some. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap after use.
4. Epsom Salt
An Epsom salt bath is great for skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate and has unique properties which give it medicinal value. It helps relieve itching and burning sensations and softens the scaling that occurs with psoriasis.
Plus, it is good for relaxation and detoxification due to the high amount of magnesium present in it. It is unlike sea salt in the fact that it softens the skin and can be rinsed away completely. Experts say that soaking the body in Epsom salts boosts the body’s magnesium levels.
- Mix two cups of Epsom salt in a bathtub filled with warm water.
- Soak in it for 15 to 20 minutes.
- When you get out of the bath, pat dry your skin and apply a good moisturizer liberally.
- Do this two or three times a week.
Garlic is another useful remedy for psoriasis due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It inhibits the activity of an enzyme called lipoxygenase that causes the inflammation associated with psoriasis. Plus, being an antimicrobial agent, it helps prevent infection. Nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB), a molecule found in the body, plays a crucial role in inflammation. The activation of this molecule has been linked with psoriasis.
A study in 2004 showed that garlic derivatives ajoene, diallyl sulfide and S-allyl cysteine inhibit NF-kB. A 2011 study suggested that external application of garlic can be an effective remedy against psoriasis. Eating garlic can also prevent psoriasis outbreaks due to its active compounds and blood purifying property.
- Mix equal amounts of garlic oil and aloe vera gel. Apply it to the affected area. Leave it on for about 15 minutes before washing it off. Do this daily until you see improvement.
- You can also eat two or three crushed garlic cloves daily. For best results, let the crushed garlic cloves sit for about 10 minutes before eating them. If you do not like the taste or smell of garlic, you can take it with milk or opt for garlic supplements (consult your doctor for proper dosage).
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil is excellent for dealing with psoriasis because it softens the skin, thereby reducing flaking and scaling. A paper published in 2017 reported that the polyphenols present in extra-virgin olive oil are effective in preventing and treating immune disorders like psoriasis.
A study in 2003 showed that a mixture of honey, beeswax, and olive oil was effective in the management of psoriasis symptoms.
- Simply applying lukewarm olive oil generously on the affected area can help treat psoriasis. Reapply several times daily until you get positive results.
- Alternatively, add two drops of calendula oil and one drop of oregano oil to one cup of olive oil. Apply it to the affected area. Leave it on for a few hours before washing it off. Repeat several times a day during flare-ups.
Like olive oil, coconut oil will also give relief to psoriasis symptoms.
Turmeric is a wonderful condiment to stock in your kitchen cabinet. It has multipurpose uses which are beyond the scope of this article. Since ancient times, it has been used for the treatment of skin diseases in India.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Its active compound curcumin fights inflammation and inhibits an enzyme called phosphorylase kinase that is responsible for skin cell growth.
Scientists have investigated the efficacy of turmeric in the treatment of psoriasis. A clinical study in 2000 showed that 50% patients had 90% clearance of psoriasis symptoms within 2-6 weeks when treated with curcumin gel, while the others showed 50-85% improvement after 3-8 weeks. This result was supported by another study done in 2015, which suggested that turmeric gel application can be an alternative therapy for people with plaque psoriasis.
- Mix one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of almond milk or diluted coconut milk in water (1:2), and sweeten it with honey. Drink it daily for at least a few weeks. You can also include this spice in your cooking. Taking it internally will benefit your overall health.
- Alternatively, make a thick paste by adding sufficient water to one teaspoon of turmeric powder. Apply it to the affected area, cover with a gauze and leave it on overnight. The next morning, remove the gauze and rinse your skin with lukewarm water. Reapply after a couple of hours. Do this daily until you are satisfied with the results.
Note: Do not take turmeric if you have gallbladder problems as it can make them worse. Also, if you have blood clotting issues or taking diabetes medications then consult your doctor before taking this herb.
Licorice has been used in Chinese medicine for a very long time for the treatment of psoriasis. At present, it is used in the treatment of dermatitis and eczema. Studies have found that licorice root is good for skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis because of its compound called glycyrrhizin.
Thus, it helps reduce redness and irritation. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that reduce inflammation and benefit the skin.
- Apply 2 percent licorice gel or cream to the affected area two times a day for several weeks.
- Alternatively, boil two teaspoons of dried licorice root in six cups of water, and then let it simmer for about 40 minutes. Cool and strain the solution. Dip a washcloth in this solution and use it as a compress a few times daily.
- Another option is to fill a jar with licorice root, pour olive oil in it, close the lid and set it aside for four to six weeks (or heat the mixture over low heat for several hours). Strain the oil. Apply it to the affected area. Leave it on until it is absorbed completely. Use it two or three times daily until you see improvement.
Glycerin is considered great for skin as it attracts moisture and thus helps maintain beautiful and healthy skin.
Researchers believe that the glycerol present in glycerin plays a role in skin maturation and allows the skin to mature properly.
- Liberally apply glycerin on the affected area.
- Leave it on for as long as possible.
- Use it two or three times daily for a few weeks or until you are satisfied with the results.
10. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel is an effective topical treatment for many skin problems like sunburns, damaged skin, burns, and many others. It also provides relief from the symptoms of psoriasis by treating skin irritation by soothing and rehydrating it. It forms a protective layer on the broken skin and promotes healing.
Plus, it is rich in many bioactive molecules that have antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Thus it helps fight inflammation and boosts the immune system.
- Extract the translucent gel from an Aloe vera leaf.
- Crush and apply it to the affected area.
- Leave it on until it is completely absorbed by the skin.
- Repeat three times daily for several weeks.
Additional Home Care Tips
- Take a daily bath or shower, but do not scrub the skin too hard as it can irritate the skin and trigger an attack. Use a body wash instead of bar soap, which can be drying.
- Keep the skin moist and clean.
- Use humidifiers to add moisture to the air.
- Avoid scratching and picking at the lesions.
- Wear soft clothing made of natural fibers like cotton and linen.
- Avoid psoriasis triggers that may cause flare-ups.
- Stay away from dyes and perfumes that can irritate your skin.
- Appropriate sun exposure also helps in the treatment of psoriasis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, UVB exposure helps slow down the rate of growth and shedding of skin cells. Some medical professionals recommend that psoriasis patients sunbathe at least three times a week for about 30 minutes.You can start by sunbathing for about 10 minutes and gradually increase the time. However, remember to avoid sunburn. Make sure to consult a dermatologist to find out how much sun exposure would be appropriate for you and whether you need to apply sunscreen.
- Use relaxation techniques to manage stress, one of the most common triggers for psoriasis.
Between 10 and 30 percent of patients suffering from psoriasis tend to develop psoriatic arthritis. So, do consult your doctor if you have symptoms of arthritis.