Advertisement

28 Home Remedies for Psoriasis

Using a moisturizer can prevent dry skin and make living with psoriasis a little easier.

Imagine having an unwanted guest show up on your doorstep. No one knows who invited him, and no one really wants him there. He's one of the most annoying people you've ever met. And his personality is so abrasive, you're embarrassed to take him anywhere.

If you have psoriasis or know anyone with this frustrating skin condition, you know that it's much like that uninvited guest. It shows up in the form of dry, inflamed, red, scaly patches of skin. Not only are psoriasis flare-ups aggravating, they make people with the condition so self-conscious about their appearance that they're reluctant to go to the grocery store without ample covering. Probably most frustrating of all is that there's no magic formula to kick this guest out of town indefinitely. You have to learn how to deal with flare-ups as they come, and take good care of yourself and your skin.

Advertisement

Advertisement

With psoriasis, that means taking precautions to prevent outbreaks, such as using heavy moisturizers and leading an overall healthy lifestyle, and, if psoriasis does cause your skin to breakout into dry, red patches, treating it quickly. In this article, we'll discuss 28 home remedies -- some consisting of simple ingredients found in your kitchen -- to help treat psoriasis discomfort, and simple everyday changes you can make to help prevent outbreaks. Let's start by discussing what psoriasis does to skin.

The Psoriasis Puzzle

Normally, your skin cells go through a month-long life cycle. New cells are formed deep within the skin, and over a period of about 28 to 30 days they make their way to the top of the skin. By that time your old skin cells die and are sloughed off by everyday routines such as showering and toweling off.

The skin of a person with psoriasis, however, goes into fast-forward. The entire skin cell process happens in three or four days, causing a buildup of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. Thankfully, this quickening of skin cells usually happens in patches, mostly on the scalp, lower back, elbows, knees, and knuckles. The technical term for these dry, irritating, scaly patches is plaques.

No one really knows what psoriasis is -- an allergy? An infection? And even with all the advanced medical knowledge in the world today, the causes of the condition remain a mystery. In about 32 percent of psoriasis cases, there's a family history of the condition, which means there is a significant genetic link. Doctors do know that there are specific lifestyle factors that can trigger psoriasis or make symptoms worse. Drinking alcohol, being overweight, stress, a lingering case of strep throat, anxiety, some medicines, and sunburn all tend to make psoriasis even more unbearable.

Psoriasis isn't contagious, though it looks like it might be. Some people end up with mild cases of the condition that produce small patches of red scales. Others are plagued by psoriasis -- it covers large areas of their body with thick scales. Some people even get psoriasis in their nails, which causes the nails to become pitted and malformed and even to break away from the skin. And in some rare cases, a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis develops.

Though there is no way to get rid of psoriasis, you can help avoid it, help your body recover more quickly and ease your symptoms with some simple home remedies, which we'll discuss in the next section.

To learn more about other skin issues, visit the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Advertisement

Regular soaking can help reduce itching and redness of lesions.

It's important to keep the skin clean around the affected psoriasis areas to prevent infection. In addition, there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent psoriasis. Below are some home remedies to cleanse the irritated skin and reduce itching and other symptoms -- and hopefully reduce your number of psoriasis outbreaks.

Take a soak. Showering, swimming, soaking in a tub, and applying wet compresses all can rehydrate very dry skin and help soften and remove thick psoriasis scales without damaging the skin. Since thick scaling can act as a barrier to both medications and ultraviolet light, it's important to gently remove as much scale as possible. Regular soaking also helps reduce itching and redness of lesions. Keep the water tepid rather than hot (hot water can increase itching).

Advertisement

Advertisement

While soaking helps remove plaque scales, however, be aware that frequent wetting and drying also removes the skin's oils, its natural protection against moisture loss. Therefore, to get the benefits of soaking without overdrying the skin, be sure to moisturize with a heavy emollient immediately (within three minutes) after soaking, washing, or wetting your skin.

Moisturize. Dry skin can crack, bleed, and become infected, so it's important to keep your skin from drying out. Moisturizing not only helps prevent dry skin, it also reduces inflammation, helps maintain flexibility (dried plaques can make moving certain parts of the body difficult), helps keep psoriasis from getting worse, and makes plaque scales less noticeable. The heaviest, or greasiest, moisturizers work best at locking water into the skin -- ingredients like lactic acid seem to work best. Or you can use cooking oils, lard, or petrolatum. Apply a moisturizer right after you step out of a bath or shower. It helps your body hold onto natural oils and water. Thick moisturizers like Eucerin, Aquaphor, and Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream are all effective. But inexpensive alternatives, such as cooking oils, lard, or petroleum jelly, offer equally strong protection.

Humidify. Dry indoor air is associated with dry skin, which is bad news for psoriasis sufferers. Use a room humidifier to raise the humidity.

Be careful with medications. Certain medications, including antimalarials, beta blockers (such as Inderal), lithium, and others, can worsen psoriasis in some people. Be sure all of the doctors who treat you know about your skin condition, and if a current medication appears to be aggravating your psoriasis, discuss with your doctor the possibility of a reduced dosage or alternative medication.

Choose soaps carefully. Harsh soaps can dry and irritate the skin and increase itching, so opt for a mild soap instead. Many mild, "superfatted" soaps that contain moisturizers, such as Basis, Alpha Keri, Purpose, Nivea Cream Bar, and Oilatum, are available. You can also choose one of the many soap-free cleansers, such as Lowilla Cake, Aveeno Cleansing Bar, or pHisoDerm Dry Skin Formula, if your skin is already dry and irritated. If you're not sure which product to choose, ask your pharmacist or doctor for recommendations. And no matter what product you choose, be sure to rinse off well and then apply moisturizer immediately to prevent itching and drying.

Use skin products carefully. Psoriasis causes the skin to be unusually susceptible to irritating substances, so use products such as hair dyes, perms, or straighteners with caution. Use potential irritants only when your skin is relatively free of lesions, and avoid them altogether if you have open wounds.

Avoid injuring your skin. Even mild injuries such as sunburn, scratches, and irritation from tight clothing can cause or worsen psoriasis. Dermatologists call this psoriasis trigger "the Koebner phenomenon."

Slim down. Being overweight makes psoriasis more uncomfortable and harder to control.

Treat infections pronto. Systemic infections like strep throat (streptococcal infections) can trigger psoriasis flares in some people. Contact your doctor at the earliest sign of infection (such as sore throat or fever).

While there currently is no cure for psoriasis, there are simple, nautral treatments and self-help steps that make living with psoriasis easier. See the next section for home remedies used by many people with psoriasis. With your doctor's approval, try some or all of them to create a self-care regimen that works for you.

To learn more about other skin issues, visit the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Advertisement

Applying a thin layer of mineral oil before hitting the beach can help  enhance the sun's effects and  keep the skin moist.

The discomfort of psoriasis can be relieved or lessened -- and many treatment options include common kitchen items found in your home. Just a little measuring, mixing and applying, and you're on your way to feeling better. Try the following home remedies when psoriasis causes problems.

Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Try a vinegar dip. Like aloe, apple cider vinegar has a long history of being used to soothe minor burns and other skin inflammations, and it's also a disinfectant. According to the Psoriasis Foundation, some folks with psoriasis have reported success in using it to treat their condition. As a liquid, it makes a great soak for affected fingernails and toenails -- just pour some in a bowl or cup and dip your nails in for a few minutes -- and apparently has even been effective when applied to plaques using cotton balls. It might just be worth a try. To prepare an apple cider vinegar compress, add 1 cup apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon water. Soak a washcloth in the mixture and apply it to the skin to ease itching.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Pass the plastic wrap. Doctors have known for years that covering psoriasis lesions helps them go away. The cover-up strategy also helps to work medications into the skin and keep moisturizers in place longer. You can use regular kitchen plastic wrap, or you can buy special OTC patches (Actiderm). Apply your prescribed medication (be sure to confirm with your doctor first that the medication you are using can safely be used with an occlusive wrap) or moisturizer, then cover the area with the wrap. Don't keep the wrap on so long that the skin becomes soggy, since it's more susceptible to secondary infection that way; consult your doctor or pharmacist if you need more specific instructions.

Pass the warm olive oil. If psoriasis scale is a problem on your scalp, warm a little olive oil and gently massage it into the scale to help soften and remove it. Then shampoo as usual and rinse thoroughly.

 

Baking soda. To take the itch out of your scaly patches, mix 1 1/2 cups baking soda into 3 gallons water. Apply to your itchy patches with a washcloth soaked in the solution.

Epsom salts. Add a handful of these healing salts to your bath. They'll keep swelling down and bring healing to your psoriasis.

Mineral oil. This is another time-proven skin soother. Add a bit to your bath and soak your aching skin.

Olive oil. An old favorite for easing psoriasis outbreaks is mixing 2 teaspoons olive oil with a large glass of milk and adding the concoction to your bathwater. Or if you are dealing with psoriasis on your scalp, massage some warm olive oil on your scaly patches. It will help soften the dead skin and make it easier to remove.

Plastic wrap. After you douse your patches in moisturizer, wrap them in plastic wrap to help hold the moisture in. Change the wrapping often.

Vegetable oil. Get in the tub and add a cupful of vegetable oil to your bath to ease your psoriasis.

the Spice Rack

Cayenne. Capsaicin, the substance that gives cayenne pepper its heat, helps relieve pain and itching by blocking the communication system of sensory nerves. And studies have found that a cream containing capsaicin helped relieve itching and got rid of psoriasis plaques. Look for a cream containing .025 to .075 percent capsaicin -- any more than that and you'll risk burning your skin. It takes about a week for the cream to work. It may cause an initial, brief burning sensation when applied to plaques, and it must be kept away from the eyes and mucous membranes because it can produce an intense burning sensation that is certainly irritating. But you may want to try a little capsaicin-containing cream on a small psoriasis lesion to see if it helps.

Home Remedies from the Supplement Shelf

Fish oil. There have been numerous studies linking the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil to improvement in psoriasis patches. The people in these studies had to take large oral doses of the supplement to show any results, but one study did find simply slathering fish oil on a psoriasis patch helped with healing. There are also commercial creams available that contain fish oils or derivatives of the oils. Whichever way you decide to use it, if you think fish oil might be worth a try, talk it over with your doctor.

Home Remedies from the Medicine Cabinet

Beat the tar out of it. Tar-containing shampoos, creams, and bath additives can help loosen psoriasis scales. Tar-containing bath oils are especially beneficial for psoriasis that is widespread on the body. These over-the-counter (OTC) products have been successful psoriasis treatments for many years.

Bring on the salicylic acid. You may also want to use "sal acid," as salicylic acid preparations are sometimes called, to remove scales. Shampoos, creams, gels, and other topical psoriasis treatments containing salicylic acid are sold over the counter.

Try OTC cortisone. Nonprescription topical medications containing 1 percent cortisone (Cortaid is one familiar brand) can also relieve the itching and irritation of psoriasis, especially for plaques that arise in skin folds or on the face. Be sure to get your doctor's OK before using one of these medications, though, and follow the package directions carefully; overuse of topical steroids such as cortisone can cause thinning and easy bruising of the skin.

Apply aloe. The gel from the aloe vera plant has long been known for its skin-soothing properties and for helping the skin heal from minor wounds and burns. Research in the 1990s appears to have extended the plant's repertoire of possible benefits to include clearing psoriasis plaques. If you want to try aloe, you can buy the plant itself, split open one of its leaves, and smear the gel onto the plaques. For larger areas of plaque or a more portable balm, you can instead purchase a bottle of pure aloe vera gel at many pharmacies and health-food stores.

Psoriasis is no picnic -- but its discomfort can be eased by preventing outbreaks through minor lifestyle changes and by treating outbreaks with a number of home remedy options, including baking soda, olive oil and mineral oil.

To learn more about other skin issues, visit the following links:

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Timothy Gower is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in many publications, including Reader's Digest, Prevention, Men's Health, Better Homes and Gardens, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. The author of four books, Gower is also a contributing editor for Health magazine.

Alice Lesch Kelly is a health writer based in Boston. Her work has been published in magazines such as Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Woman's Day, Reader's Digest, Eating Well, and Health. She is the co-author of three books on women's health.

Linnea Lundgren has more than 12 years experience researching, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines. She is the author of four books, including Living Well With Allergies.

Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers and Southern Living magazines. Formerly assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine, her professional passion is learning and writing about health.

ABOUT THE CONSULTANTS:

Ivan Oransky, M.D., is the deputy editor of The Scientist. He is author or co-author of four books, including The Common Symptom Answer Guide, and has written for publications including the Boston Globe, The Lancet, and USA Today. He holds appointments as a clinical assistant professor of medicine and as adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement