Can I Use Listerine for Psoriasis?

Medically reviewed by Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE on January 26, 2016Written by Anna Schaefer on January 26, 2016

We know Listerine as an antiseptic mouthwash. It burns a little and freshens your breath remarkably. Now, the very same minty solution is being discussed online as a potential psoriasis remedy…and while we all love a home remedy, this one might be too strange to be true.

When it comes to dealing with a condition like psoriasis, knowing which remedies are worthwhile and which could actually make matters worse could save you some time and discomfort.

Listerine Wasn’t Always a Mouthwash

Listerine was invented in 1879 by a St. Louis man named Joseph Lawrence. Lawrence was working to develop a surgical antiseptic and came up with a solution that consisted of alcohol, eucalyptus oil, menthol, and thymol, among other things.

But more than just a surgical antiseptic, Lawrence said his new creation could clean wounds, cure athlete’s foot, and treat dandruff. It wasn’t until 1895 that Listerine was recognized as a product for oral health, and even then it was still being prescribed for sore throats and colds.

Could Listerine’s Ingredients Soothe Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that presents with red patches of raised skin. These patches are typically dry, and can cause burning and itching. While we know Listerine can’t cure an autoimmune disease, is there a chance the ingredients could soothe these symptoms?

“Home remedies [for psoriasis] may work and may help if they contain oils or other lubricants for the skin,” says Dr. Tien Nguyen, a dermatologist with Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. Nguyen says the eucalyptus oil in Listerine could provide a certain amount of relief.

Both the menthol and alcohol could cool the psoriasis patches, too, relieving patients of their itchiness, according to Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse of the University of Southern California.

Both doctors, however, say the alcohol within Listerine counteracts any potential benefits.

“I would not recommend applying alcohol to the skin because it will dry it out and cause more scaling, itching, and irritation in the long run,” says Dr. Shainhouse.

Better Home Remedies for Psoriasis Relief

Shainhouse says there are numerous other home remedies that can provide better relief for psoriasis sufferers. She recommends ice packs to cool the itchy patches, coconut oil for soothing, anti-inflammatory moisturizing, and oatmeal baths to naturally moisturize and cleanse without irritation.

Finally, as with any chronic medical condition, it’s important to discuss any treatment protocol with your doctor. They may have greater insight into nondrug remedies for your specific complaints, and provide feedback on home remedies (like Listerine) that are better left alone.

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