Psoriasis causes patches of itchy, discolored skin with scales that range in color from whitish-silver to gray.
If you’re among the estimated
Psoriasis treatment usually includes topical creams and gels that can help:
- target the overproduction of skin cells
- minimize the appearance of flaky skin
- reduce inflammation and skin discoloration
But these standard approaches don’t work well for everyone, so many people with psoriasis seek out complementary and alternative remedies, such as collagen.
Much of the evidence for collagen’s effectiveness in treating psoriasis remains anecdotal — and even then, the results are mixed. Still, some people believe collagen’s ability to reduce inflammation could help decrease the severity of psoriasis.
Read on to learn what collagen can do for your skin and why some people consider it a complementary approach to treating psoriasis.
Collagen is a protein that lends strength and density to many parts of the body, including your:
- connective tissue
In fact, collagen is the most common protein found not only in the human body but in the entire animal kingdom. It’s an incomplete protein, meaning it doesn’t contain every amino acid (it doesn’t contain tryptophan).
Your body makes its own collagen, known as endogenous collagen. Collagen that comes from outside the body, like in the form of supplements, is called exogenous collagen.
Collagen serves many important functions, including:
- keeping skin elastic
- aiding bone density
- strengthening hair and nails
- supporting joints
- reinforcing ligaments and tendons
- playing a role in wound healing
In addition, collagen helps your body produce and multiply cells. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Countless collagen supplements exist, including some that claim to treat psoriasis. That said, research has yet to explore the benefits of collagen for psoriasis in depth.
Still, collagen may have some benefit for psoriasis treatment.
It may help reduce inflammation
The skin plaques that form with psoriasis are believed to result from inflammation, which can have long-term health consequences.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about 30% of people with psoriasis go on to develop psoriatic arthritis, which involves joint inflammation. Psoriasis could even increase your risk of heart disease due to the inflammation it causes.
But 2018 research has suggested reducing inflammation in the body can help mitigate some of these health risks — and that’s where collagen comes in.
Here are some recent research findings on collagen as a treatment for inflammation:
- According to 2018 research, the anti-inflammatory properties of the amino acids in collagen may help reduce inflammation in arthritis.
- 2021 research underscores the critical role collagen plays in wound healing, including reducing inflammation and supporting the growth of new skin.
- According to
2019 researchlinking psoriasis to other inflammatory conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and diabetes, reducing inflammation in the entire body may effectively help treat psoriasis.
It can improve skin elasticity
Collagen has a well-known role in supporting skin health. In particular, the amino acids in collagen promote the growth of strong, healthy skin.
Collagen can also help reduce the appearance of wrinkles by boosting the density of collagen in the skin — collagen-dense skin is less prone to wrinkling.
In fact, many people take collagen supplements to help:
- maintain skin elasticity
- reduce skin thinning
- keep skin smooth
Some common psoriasis treatments, such as corticosteroids, may prove harsh on the skin. For instance, corticosteroids can sometimes cause your skin to thin.
Supplementing with collagen, then, may help you maintain the health of your skin while using the treatments recommended by your dermatologist.
You can take collagen in different forms, including:
- powders you add to broth, coffee, soups, smoothies, and more
- supplements in the form of pills and capsules
- collagen-rich foods like bone broth and organ meats
You can find most collagen supplements and powders at your local pharmacy or grocery store.
While collagen injections may help reduce visual signs of skin aging, no research supports the use of collagen injections to treat psoriasis.
Types of collagen
While 28 different types of collagen exist, type 1 is the most common in your body.
According to a 2015 study on alternative treatments for psoriasis, some people use type 2 collagen, found mainly in eyes and cartilage, to treat psoriasis.
Collagen comes from many animal sources, including cows, pigs, and marine life, like fish. Marine collagen is often touted as the gold standard when it comes to supplements since it’s:
- better absorbed by your body
- less likely to provoke an immune response and inflammation
- better for the environment
Bone broth is generally considered a high-collagen food, but 2018 research suggested that it may not contain reliable amounts of the amino acids that make collagen effective.
In other words, collagen supplements may offer a better option for getting more collagen into your system. Supplements contain anywhere from 2.5 to 20 grams of collagen per serving.
Keep in mind, though, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate supplements, so it’s always best to check with your dermatologist or another healthcare professional before you try a new supplement.
Generally speaking, experts consider collagen fairly safe for most people to take. Older research from 2000 suggested that it had the potential to cause some mild side effects, including:
- reduced appetite
- digestive issues
If you’re prone to kidney stones, you may want to avoid taking collagen. It contains an amino acid called hydroxyproline, which your body converts to oxalates. In some cases, this could
Additionally, collagen contains various animal proteins, which can cause allergic reactions in some people. You’ll want to check the ingredients of any supplement you’re considering to make sure it doesn’t contain any allergens that could trigger a reaction.
And since all naturally occurring collagen is animal-based, it isn’t suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets. However, some people who follow plant-based diets take vegan collagen or supplements that contain the same amino acids as collagen but from plant sources.
Again, it’s always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional before taking a new supplement, especially if you have any health concerns or take any medications.
In search of other treatments for psoriasis that don’t involve prescription medication?
A 2019 review of alternative psoriasis treatments reports that some people use:
- Turmeric: Turmeric contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound. A 2020 study found topical curcumin treatments could help reduce the growth of skin cells involved with psoriasis.
- Coconut oil: A 2021 case study that used an Ayurvedic approach to treat psoriasis included coconut oil as part of treatment for its anti-inflammatory, moisturizing, and soothing properties.
- Light therapy: Also called phototherapy, this approach uses ultraviolet light to act on T cells, which are involved in your body’s immune system, to treat psoriasis.
- Dietary changes: Some people use gluten-free, keto, or paleo diets to manage psoriasis. A 2019 review suggests lifestyle and diet changes may soothe psoriasis when they also help keep inflammation low.
- Vitamin D: Both topical and oral vitamin D supplements may be comparable to prescription psoriasis treatments like corticosteroids, according to
- Fish oil: A 2020 review found that fish oil could help people manage psoriasis along with co-occurring inflammatory conditions like obesity and heart disease.
Psoriasis may be a skin condition, but its causes typically run much deeper, with their roots in inflammation and your immune response. In other words, collagen supplements alone likely won’t cure psoriasis.
All the same, collagen can certainly benefit your skin and help soothe inflammation, so boosting a nutrient-rich and anti-inflammatory diet with more collagen could prove helpful.
Just keep in mind it’s always safest to check with a healthcare professional before trying collagen supplements.
Courtney Telloian is a writer with work published on Healthline, Psych Central, and Insider. Previously, she worked on the editorial teams of Psych Central and GoodTherapy. Her areas of interest include holistic approaches to health, especially women’s wellness, and topics centered around mental health.