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 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.
Essential oils are commonly used in aromatherapy and other alternative therapies for a wide range of health issues, including skin conditions. If applying essential oils to the skin, they must first be diluted in a carrier oil. Essential oils are not meant to be swallowed and must not be consumed.
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 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.
Here’s a breakdown of the oils that may have benefits in managing psoriasis.
Coconut oil isn’t considered 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.
Coconut oil is often used as a carrier oil for essential oils. Do not consume coconut oil if there are any essential oils added.
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. Learn more about coconut oil and scalp 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, however, as it may dry out your skin and make matters worse.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, 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. Learn more about tea tree oil and psoriasis.
Castor oil isn’t an essential oil, but it can be used as a vehicle for applying an essential oil to the skin. You can add essential oils to a castor oil base before application. This helps dilute the essential oil and may 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 the number of disease-fighting lymphocyte cells in your body.
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 if you are breastfeeding or chestfeeding.
According to one 2015 scientific review, lavender oil is one of the most studied essential oils.
It’s 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 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, which might lessen certain emotional triggers of psoriasis. Lavender oil may also help to lessen itching on the skin when mixed with a lotion and applied to the skin.
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 bathwater.
Some sources say that geranium oil can improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and even work to relieve stress. It is also said to promote the growth and regeneration of healthy cells.
Dilute this oil well. You may experience minor side effects when applying this oil to the skin, even when it is 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 a carrier oil like coconut oil. Recommendations say to apply this mixture to affected areas twice daily until you see improvement.
Peppermint oil may help reduce itching and pain you get in and around psoriasis patches. This oil also tackles itching caused by anything from herpes blisters to scabies infestations.
One 2015 review noted that there are 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.
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 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 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 your skin from the sun.
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.
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.
Also called “black cumin seed oil,” this oil comes from a plant called Nigella sativa, or black cumin.
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It might help to soothe any inflammation while also speeding up the skin’s healing process. Black seed oil can also be an excellent moisturizer and may 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 people should also avoid using black seed oil. Black seed oil may also have a sedative effect.
Black seed oil is a carrier oil. 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.
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 issues. You should speak with your doctor about the oils you’d like to use to complement your current psoriasis care plan.
Some essential oils are also 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.
Eating a varied diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, and heart-healthy oils can help some people keep psoriasis symptoms in check. You may find that reducing your intake of processed foods or simple carbohydrates and eliminating alcohol decreases the number or severity of your flares.
Omega-3s can help reduce inflammation and lubricate the cells of the body. It’s a good idea to speak with a doctor or pharmacist about any supplements or vitamins you’re interested in taking with your current medications.
Regular exercise can reduce inflammation and relieve stress, which are key factors in managing psoriasis. Wear comfortable moisture-wicking clothing to protect your skin. It’s important to not overdo it. This may trigger a stress response in your body, which can make psoriasis worse.
While sunshine can be beneficial for psoriasis, make sure to use sunscreen when outdoors.
Physical and mental health
Speak with a doctor or pharmacist about options for reducing the cost of your treatment, including manufacturer discounts on medications. You may also want to consider looking for a Health Center near you that offers low or no-cost care.
Psoriasis affects not just your physical health but also your mental health. New options for online or text-based therapy allow you to connect with a counselor from the comfort of your home, with some payment plans beginning at around $60 a week.
If you are looking for other alternative therapies, you might consider acupuncture. Although there are few side effects or risks when acupuncture is performed by a certified practitioner, it may cause new skin lesions. It’s important to monitor your condition and to discontinue acupuncture if this occurs.
Organizations like the National Psoriasis Foundation offer online support groups. You may also be able to meet other people who share your diagnosis through social media apps or message boards. You can also sometimes find local support groups through your doctor’s office or hospital.
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 relieve their psoriasis symptoms. But 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.