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Can You Use Argan Oil for Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects the skin, scalp, nails, and sometimes the joints (a form called psoriatic arthritis). Psoriasis causes new skin cells to grow on the surface of the skin. The cells form grey, itchy patches that can be painful, as well as crack and bleed. Although it’s a chronic condition, the symptoms aren’t always apparent. They can heal for varying periods of time, and also change in size, thickness, and location.

Psoriasis is caused the immune system attacking itself, but why it does so is unclear. Flares can be triggered by many causes, such as sunburn, viral infections, stress, or excess alcohol consumption (more than one drink a day for women, two for men). People with a family history of psoriasis are more likely to have the condition. Smoking and being overweight can make psoriasis worse.

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Finding Treatment

There’s no cure for psoriasis, and it can be difficult to find the combination of treatments that works best for a specific individual. Those frustrations can lead to depression, anxiety, and loss of daily productivity and enjoyment.

Medicines for psoriasis aim to interrupt the immune system’s malfunction. Some also reduce inflammation and stop the growth of excess cells. Because pain, itching, and inflammation are such obvious symptoms and so uncomfortable, many people with psoriasis seek out over-the-counter solutions that soothe the skin, like moisturizers. It’s important to remember that there’s still no cure for psoriasis, though symptoms can be treated.

Argan Oil Benefits

Argan oil is pressed from the seeds of the Argania spinosa tree of western North Africa. It has been used by cultures of that region for thousands of years, both as a cooking tool and for cosmetic purposes. Praised for its ability to add healthy shine to hair and skin, it’s the most expensive edible oil in the world.

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Argan oil is composed of vitamin E, squalene, and fatty acids. It has been studied for its benefits to heart health. Studies showing that its benefits for skin are mixed, though generally positive. While one study called for more evidence to support claims of argan oil’s antiaging benefits to the skin, another noted that it increases the skin’s ability to stretch in postmenopausal women. A third study found that it improved skin hydration.

Since psoriasis outbreaks cause the skin to feel dry and brittle, argan oil’s hydrating effects could mean it is one way to help skin feel better. Vitamin E is essential for healthy skin, while squalene is used as a lubricant and moisturizer in cosmetics. But argan oil is just one of many oils containing those ingredients; olive oil, for example, is another good source of vitamin E and squalene. That suggests that vegetable oils less expensive than argan oil may provide just as much comfort to painful skin.

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The Takeaway

As you work with your medical team to control psoriasis flare-ups, talk to your doctor about topical over-the-counter treatments. He or she may suggest corticosteroid creams. These can relieve redness, dry skin, and irritation. Hypoallergenic moisturizers can help your skin feel calmer. If you’re drinking more than is healthy, cutting back on alcohol could reduce your psoriasis symptoms. Most importantly, don’t give up hope, and keep working to find the right solutions for you.

Article resources
  • Abbassi, A., Khalid, N., Zbakh, H., & Ahmad, A. (2014). Physicochemical Characteristics, Nutritional Properties, and Health Benefits of Argan Oil: A Review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 1401-1414. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24580537
  • Boucetta, K., Charrouf, Z., Derouiche, A., Rahali, Y., & Bensouda, Y. (2013). Skin hydration in postmenopausal women: Argan oil benefit with oral and/or topical use. Menopausal Review, 13(5), 280-288. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26327867
  • Lybbert, T., Aboudrare, A., Chaloud, D., Magnan, N., & Nash, M. (2011). Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Traps Special Feature: Booming markets for Moroccan argan oil appear to benefit some rural households while threatening the endemic argan forest. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(34), 13963-13968. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3161605/
  • Suggs, A., Oyetakin-White, P., & Baron, E. (2014). Effect of Botanicals on Inflammation and Skin Aging: Analyzing the Evidence. Inflammation & Allergy-Drug Targets, 13(3), 168-176. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24863255
  • The effect of dietary and/or cosmetic argan oil on postmenopausal skin elasticity. (2013). Clinical Interventions in Aging, 10, 339-349. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25673976
  • Vitamin E. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/
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