Essential oils and psoriasis
If you’re dealing with itchy, uncomfortable patches of psoriasis, you’re not alone. This relatively common skin condition can flare up at any time and leave discomfort in its wake. Relief can come in many forms, from medications to light therapy treatments to essential oils.
Essential oils are used in aromatherapy and other alternative therapies for a wide range of health issues, including skin conditions like psoriasis. Relatively few studies have explored essential oils as a treatment for psoriasis. A lot of the information available is anecdotal in nature.
Essential oils aren’t recommended as a primary or first-line treatment option. You should use them only as a complementary therapy to your regular regimen. You should also consult with your doctor before adding essential oils to your treatment routine. They can help determine whether this is the best option for you.
Here’s a breakdown of the oils commonly used to treat psoriasis.
Coconut oil for psoriasis
Coconut oil isn’t considered to be an essential oil. But it has anti-inflammatory properties that may help ease psoriasis pain. It’s widely regarded as a gentle ingredient. Because of this, it’s often recommended as a treatment for scalp psoriasis. The oil moisturizes the skin and scales.
When used alone, coconut oil doesn’t typically cause any side effects. The oil is routinely used as a cooking ingredient and is safe for consumption. It can be taken internally or applied externally with few, if any, interactions.
You can use coconut oil in several ways. Try ingesting up to two tablespoons of virgin coconut oil daily. The lauric acid substance inside may block bacteria and viruses from entering your body. You can also apply virgin coconut oil liberally to the affected areas. It may be more effective if you put it on your skin directly after bathing.
If you have pain, itching, or other unusual symptoms after using coconut oil, stop using it and speak with your doctor.
Tea tree oil for psoriasis
Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of a plant native to Australia. The oil is said to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It may also support healthy immune function.
If you scratch an area affected by psoriasis, consider applying tea tree oil to the area. This may help ward off infection and ease inflammation. Don’t use too much of this powerful oil, as it may dry out your skin and make matters worse.
There aren’t any scientific studies to confirm or deny the effectiveness of tea tree oil on psoriasis. Additional skin irritation or an allergic reaction is possible. To determine if you’re allergic, you should test a small area of skin before using the oil over a large area.
Some people find relief by using store-bought products that contain tea tree oil. You can find this ingredient in anything from shampoos to soaps to lotions.
Castor oil for psoriasis
Castor oil isn’t an essential oil, but it can be used as a vehicle for applying essential oil. You can add essential oils to a castor oil base before application. This can help dilute the essential oil and prevent any adverse effects.
This natural emollient also works to soften skin. Anecdotal accounts suggest that cold pressed castor oil may help speed up healing and moisturize areas of dry, flaky skin when used daily.
It’s also thought that applying castor oil directly to your skin may help remove toxins. It may improve immune function by increasing your count of disease-fighting lymphocyte cells.
Castor oil sold in stores may be chemically processed or sourced from seeds that have been sprayed with pesticides. You should read labels carefully, and proceed slowly to avoid side effects like skin irritation. You shouldn’t use this oil if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding.
Lavender oil for psoriasis
Lavender oil is one of the most studied essential oils. It’s frequently used for a variety of conditions, including abrasions, headaches, and muscle pain. Lavender oil has even been shown to have successful antibacterial and antifungal properties against different bacterias when traditional medicines have failed.
If you’re under stress, consider applying diluted lavender oil to your temples. This may help ease your mind, possibly alleviating certain emotional triggers. Lavender oil may also helps to lessen itching on the skin when mixed with a lotion and applied to the skin.
Pregnant and breast-feeding women, as well as people who have diabetes, should avoid using lavender oil. Overuse of this oil may result in nausea, vomiting, or headaches.
As with other essential oils, you may try applying a few drops of lavender oil to your skin when diluted with a carrier like coconut oil. Some people add drops of this oil directly to bath water.
Geranium oil for psoriasis
Geranium oil can improve circulation, lessen inflammation, and even work to relieve stress. It also promotes the growth and regeneration of healthy cells.
You may experience minor side effects when applying this oil directly to the skin. You should do a patch test before applications. You should also dilute full-strength oil by using carrier oils. This can reduce the likelihood of an adverse reaction.
Geranium oil is known to slow or stop blood flow, so use caution if you have high blood pressure or are at risk of cardiovascular diseases.
For skin issues ranging from acne to dermatitis, you can try mixing up to five drops of geranium oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil. Apply this mixture to affected areas twice daily until you see improvement.
Peppermint oil for psoriasis
Peppermint oil may help most with any itching and pain you get in and around psoriasis patches. There are some 25 different species of peppermint with over 600 varieties. No matter what plant you use, the menthol in the oil is what gives peppermint its punch. This oil also tackles itching caused by anything from herpes blisters to scabies infestations.
In small doses, peppermint doesn’t usually cause any side effects. There’s a slight chance of allergic reaction, so be on the lookout for any unusual signs and symptoms after application.
A popular home remedy involves combining one cup of distilled water with five to seven drops of peppermint essential oils in a spray bottle. You can spritz this mixture onto painful, itchy skin for soothing relief.
Argan oil for psoriasis
Argan oil is a carrier oil, not an essential oil. It’s rich in vitamin E, which is hydrating to the skin. It may also improve your skin’s metabolism, reduce inflammation, and protect skin from the sun.
Argan oil may work on psoriasis because it’s both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. This means that the oil helps to reduce redness, dryness, swelling, and itchiness.
Note that culinary and cosmetic argan oils are not the same thing. You shouldn’t ingest cosmetic argan oil. Allergic reactions are rare, and you should discontinue use if you experience discomfort.
Because argan oil isn’t an essential oil, it can be applied directly to the skin or mixed with essential oils for a blend of results.
Black seed oil for psoriasis
Also called “black cumin seed oil,” this oil has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and anthelmintic properties. It can help with a range of skin issues, from ones caused by psoriasis to ones caused by parasites.
It helps to soothe any inflammation while also speeding up the skin’s healing process. Black seed oil is an excellent moisturizer and can even reduce scale thickness.
Black seeds may slow blood clotting and lower blood pressure, so people with clotting disorders, diabetes, or low blood pressure should speak with a doctor before use. Pregnant women should also avoid using black seed oil. Black seed oil may also have a sedative effect.
You may apply black seed oil directly to the skin or mix it with a carrier oil before application. This method should help soothe itch and moisturize skin.
Risk factors to consider
Always research the specific oil you intend to use before you incorporate it into your treatment plan. Each oil comes with its own cautions and interactions.
Although they’re all natural, essential oils can be particularly potent ingredients. For this reason, they should be treated like medicine and used with care.
Essential oils are generally not recommended for pregnant or breast-feeding women. Some oils may interact with certain medications or health issues. You should speak with your doctor about the oils you’d like to use to complement your current psoriasis care.
What you can do now
If you’re looking to use essential oils to treat your psoriasis symptoms, there a few things you can do now:
- Ask your doctor if essential oils are right for you.
- Research the cautions and interactions of each oil.
- Read product labels carefully and proceed slowly to avoid side effects.
- Test a small area of skin before using the oil over a large area.
Because specific studies about essential oils are still lacking, it’s a good idea to involve your doctor in your exploration of oils as a psoriasis treatment.