Aloe vera can be used topically as a treatment for irritated, sunburned, or environmentally damaged skin. The gel inside the aloe vera plant helps provide relief for burns and wound care because of its soothing and antibacterial properties. That’s why aloe vera gel has come to the attention of researchers as a possible treatment for chronic plaque psoriasis.
Aloe vera may be used as a supplemental treatment for psoriasis. It presents an opportunity for proven benefits without harsh side effects. But our knowledge about how it helps heal psoriasis is limited.
Benefits and uses
To use aloe vera to treat psoriasis, you would apply the gel of the aloe vera plant topically to psoriasis scales. For some people, this treatment will cause a psoriasis flare-up on their skin to subside. Using aloe vera as a lubricating agent on your skin might also repress psoriasis flare-ups and keep your skin hydrated.
Any topical gel or cream that claims to treat psoriasis with aloe vera should contain at least 0.5 percent pure aloe vera. For this treatment to work, you apply a cream containing aloe vera gel to the affected area of skin up to three times each day for five consecutive days, according to the Mayo Clinic. You can continue this dosage for up to four weeks in a row. After four weeks, you should take a break from this treatment. Sometimes using aloe vera gel for too long can cause redness or discomfort at the site of application.
The National Psoriasis Foundation points out that there is no clear benefit for psoriasis from taking oral aloe vera tablets. These kinds of treatments could actually be dangerous. Stick to topical aloe vera treatments if you're treating psoriasis.
Potential risks and limitations
An older study from 1996 found that aloe vera gel was a more effective treatment for psoriasis than the placebo used in the study. But that doesn’t mean aloe vera is some kind of miracle psoriasis cure. It might help reduce your psoriasis significantly and become a part of your treatment plan. However, holistic remedies like aloe vera gel are no substitute for speaking with your doctor about your symptoms and sticking to a long-term treatment plan tailored to those symptoms.
Some people are quite allergic to aloe vera. You should do a patch test on a small, discreet area of skin and wait to see if you have any kind of negative reaction before applying aloe vera as a treatment to your psoriasis.
Topical aloe vera is safe for most people with psoriasis to use, except those with an allergy to it. If you experience an allergic reaction to aloe vera gel, discontinue use immediately and watch the area to make sure that the hives or inflammation subsides.
Certain people might be at more risk for an allergic reaction to aloe vera than others. This includes people who are allergic to plants in the Liliaceae family (garlic, onions, and tulips).
Aloe vera is just one method of treating psoriasis. Other kinds of psoriasis treatment vary according to the severity of symptoms. Topical corticosteroids, vitamin D, chemical peels, and retinoid creams are all sometimes prescribed to help psoriasis symptoms.
If you’re using a corticosteroid cream to treat your psoriasis, be aware that sometimes applying aloe vera to the site of a flare-up can change the chemistry of your skin. As a result, your skin could absorb more of the active ingredients in the corticosteroid cream.
If you’re using retinoids to control psoriasis, aloe vera might be an especially helpful way to supplement your treatment. Retinoids can cause your skin to be more susceptible to sun damage, and aloe vera helps to repair skin that’s been burned in the sun.
There are plenty of other alternative remedies to try if you have psoriasis. Tea tree oil, turmeric, and Oregon grape are a few that are currently being explored for their psoriasis-treatment potential. Oatmeal (for oatmeal baths) and apple cider vinegar are two at-home remedies that you may already have in your pantry.
Alternative remedies aren’t a replacement for what your doctor prescribes to treat psoriasis, however.
Aloe vera is a promising alternative treatment to help relieve psoriasis. While some research has demonstrated its healing potential, more studies are needed to determine to what extent aloe vera can be used to heal psoriasis and if there are long-term side effects. Whenever you decide to try a new psoriasis treatment, you should be sure to keep your doctor informed and update your treatment plan.