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 at a faster rate. The cells form grey, itchy patches that can be painful, crack, and bleed. It’s a chronic condition, but symptoms aren’t always apparent. The patches can heal for a time, or change in size, thickness, and location.

Psoriasis is caused when the immune system attacks itself, but why this happens is unclear. Flares can be triggered by sunburn, viral infections, stress, or excess alcohol consumption (more than one drink per day for women, two for men). People with a family history of psoriasis are more likely to have the condition. Stress, smoking, and being overweight can make psoriasis worse.

There’s no cure for psoriasis. It can be difficult to find the combination of treatments that works best for you, which may cause depression, anxiety, and loss of daily productivity and enjoyment.

Medicines for psoriasis aim to stop immune system malfunction. Some medicines reduce inflammation and stop the excess growth of cells. Many people with psoriasis seek over-the-counter treatments like moisturizers to soothe skin pain, itching, and inflammation. It’s important to remember there’s no cure for psoriasis, but you can treat symptoms.

Argan oil is pressed from the seeds of the Argania spinosa tree of western North Africa. Cultures of that region have used argan oil for thousands of years, both in cooking and for cosmetic purposes. It is praised for its ability to add healthy shine to hair and skin. It’s also the most expensive edible oil in the world.

Argan oil contains vitamin E, squalene, and fatty acids. Researchers have studied its benefits to heart health. Studies show its skin benefits are mixed. One study called for more evidence to support claims of argan oil’s anti-aging benefits to the skin. Another study noted that it increases the skin’s ability to stretch in postmenopausal women. A third study found that it improved skin hydration.

Psoriasis outbreaks cause the skin to feel dry and brittle. Argan oil’s hydrating effects could mean it could help skin feel better. Vitamin E is the essential compound in argan oil that makes skin healthy. Squalene is also found in argan oil, and is used as a lubricant and moisturizer in cosmetics.

Argan oil is just one of many oils containing those ingredients. Olive oil, for example, is another good source of vitamin E and squalene. This suggests that vegetable oils that are less expensive than argan oil may also provide comfort to painful skin.

As you work with your doctor to control psoriasis flare-ups, mention topical over-the-counter treatments. Your doctor may suggest corticosteroid creams. These products can relieve redness, dry skin, and irritation. Also, hypoallergenic moisturizers can help calm your skin.

You can also help alleviate stress by practicing relaxation techniques or meditation. And cutting back on alcohol could reduce your psoriasis symptoms. Most importantly, don’t give up hope, and keep working to find the right treatment.