Essential oils are not a primary treatment for psoriasis but may work as a complementary treatment in consultation with your doctor.

If you’re dealing with itchy, uncomfortable patches of psoriasis, you’re not alone.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that results in a faster production of skin cells. This relatively common skin condition can flare up at any time and can look pink or red with silvery-white scales on fair skin tones, salmon-colored with silvery-white scales on medium skin tones, and violet or dark brown with gray scales on darker skin tones.

Read on to learn about essential oils and psoriasis.

Essential oils are made from herbs and other plants and are commonly used for a wide range of health issues, including skin conditions. Though they are called oils, most essential oils are not actually oily like vegetable oils for example, because they are not made of fatty acids.

If applying essential oils to the skin, they must first be diluted in a carrier oil such as jojoba, olive oil, or coconut oil. Essential oils are not meant to be swallowed and must not be consumed.

Essential oils are not listed as a primary or first-line treatment option for psoriasis. 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 if essential oils are a good option for you.

There is also some evidence regarding the following:

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil comes from the leaves of a plant native to Australia. It’s 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 diluted tea tree oil to the area. This may help ward off infection and ease inflammation. Don’t use too much of this powerful oil, however, as it may dry out your skin and make matters worse.

There’s some evidence that tea tree oil can help with skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or blepharitis.

That said, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, there aren’t any scientific studies to confirm or deny the effectiveness of tea tree oil on psoriasis.

Anecdotally, 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.

However, 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.

Learn more about tea tree oil and psoriasis.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) oil is frequently used for a variety of conditions, including scrapes or grazes, headaches, and muscle pain. Lavender oil has even been shown to have successful antibacterial and antifungal properties against different bacteria when traditional medicines have failed.

A 2020 study suggests lavender oil can help reduce psoriasis inflammation. In addition, it can be used to relieve stress, which is a trigger of psoriasis. If you’re under stress, consider applying diluted lavender oil to your temples.

Pregnant and nursing individuals, 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 lavender oil diluted in a carrier oil to their bathwater. Just be aware this can make your tub slippery.

Learn more about lavender oil and the skin.

Some sources say that geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) oil can improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and even work to relieve stress. It’s also said to promote the growth and regeneration of healthy cells.

A number of studies point to geranium’s benefits for various skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Dilute this oil well. You may experience minor side effects when applying this oil to the skin, even when it’s diluted. Geranium oil commonly causes allergic or other skin reactions. You should always do a patch test before applying any essential oil to larger areas of your skin.

For skin issues ranging from acne to dermatitis, you can try mixing up to five drops of geranium oil with 1 ounce of carrier oil like coconut oil. Recommendations say to apply this mixture to affected areas twice daily until you see improvement.

Learn more about geranium oil.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) oil may help reduce itching and pain you get in and around psoriasis patches by promoting skin healing. 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 an allergic reaction, so be on the lookout for any unusual signs and symptoms after application.

A popular home remedy involves combining 1 cup of distilled water with 5–7 drops of peppermint essential oil in a spray bottle. You can spritz this mixture onto painful, itchy skin for soothing relief.

Learn more about peppermint oil.

Bergamot essential oil comes from the rinds of citrus fruit (Citrus bergamia) that grow on bergamot orange trees. It has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties that can help treat certain infectious skin diseases.

It can also help reduce psoriasis plaques. That said, the research on both animals and humans is relatively old, and more study is necessary to confirm its impact.

Learn more about bergamot oil.

Argan (Argania spinosa) oil is a carrier oil, not an essential oil. It’s rich in vitamin E, which is hydrating to the skin. It may help reduce skin damage from conditions like acne or chickenpox, as well as from wrinkles — though more research is needed on its effectiveness. It also contains a lot of nutrients and can be added to cooking or food.

Argan oil may work on psoriasis because it’s both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. This means that the oil has properties that help to reduce redness, dryness, swelling, and itchiness. That said, there’s no specific research looking at the effect of argan oil on psoriasis.

Note that culinary and cosmetic argan oils are not the same thing. You shouldn’t ingest cosmetic argan oil. Allergic reactions are rare, but 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.

Learn more about argan oil and psoriasis.

Also called “black cumin seed oil,” this carrier oil comes from a plant called Nigella sativa, or black cumin.

A 2018 study on rats found that black seed oil may help moisturize the skin and reduce skin inflammation. An older 2014 study on humans found the same benefit, which was higher when subjects were treated with both topical and oral forms of the oil at the same time.

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 people should also avoid using black seed oil. Black seed oil may also have a sedative effect.

You can apply black seed oil directly to the skin or mix it with an essential oil before application. This method should help soothe itch and moisturize skin.

Learn more about black seed oil.

Certain herbs, some of which have a long history of therapeutic use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), have also been found to help reduce psoriasis inflammation.

Essential oils can be extracted from herbs such as the following, which can be diluted into a carrier oil like coconut oil for topical use:

  • oregon grape (mahonia aquifolium)
  • indigo naturalis (lindioil)
  • Chinese happy tree (camptotheca accuminata)
  • Beefsteak plant (perilla frutescens)
  • ginseng (angelica sinensis)
  • gotu kola (Centella asiatica L.)
  • eastern teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens L.)
  • chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.)
  • frankincense (olibanum)

That said, more research is needed to examine the effect of each of these specific herbs on psoriasis. Always consult with your doctor before trying any of these herbs.

Other herbs that may offer some benefit for psoriasis include:

  • araroba (Vataireopsis araroba)
  • barberry bark (Mahonia aquifolium)
  • basil (Ocimum basilicum)
  • chili pepper (Capsicum annum)
  • lace flower (Ammi visnaga L. and Ammi majus L.)
  • jasmine (Cestrum diurnum)
  • cloves (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • curcumin (Curcuma longa or turmeric)
  • fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • anise (Pimpinella anisum)
  • garlic (Allium sativum)
  • ginger (Zingiber officinale)

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 medication and used with care.

Essential oils are generally not recommended for infants, children, or pregnant or nursing individuals. Some oils may interact with certain medications or health conditions. You should speak with your doctor about the oils you’d like to use to complement your current psoriasis care plan.

Some essential oils, like tea tree oil, are toxic to pets. This is true both for direct contact with the skin and for inhalation.

Consider storing any essential oils in a place where children and pets can’t reach them. As for your diffuser, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends using it in a well-ventilated space or in a room that your pet can’t access.

Your vet or another medical professional may be able to give you more specific recommendations.

There are many options you can try at home for managing your psoriasis. While they are not recommended as a first-line treatment, you may consider using essential oils.

Some people have reported positive results from using essential oils to help relieve their psoriasis symptoms. However, more research is needed to determine how effective they are as a treatment.

As with any potential treatment, there are benefits and risks involved when using essential oils. Consider talking with your doctor to determine whether essential oils are a treatment that can work for you. Discuss possible side effects and interactions with any medications you may be taking.

If you decide to use essential oils, make sure that you understand how to apply them safely to your body and how to use them in a diffuser.