Every case of psoriasis is unique, so there isn’t a single method for effectively treating the disease. Along with discussing treatment options with your doctor or dermatologist, there are home remedies that you may find work well for you.
Here are eight home remedies that have shown some promising results in providing relief for psoriasis symptoms.
1. Salt baths
A warm (not hot) bath can be soothing to the skin, especially for people with psoriasis. You can try adding Epsom salt, mineral oil, colloidal oatmeal, or olive oil to help with itching and irritation.
Bathing with Dead Sea salts in particular has shown a beneficial effect for treating psoriasis. The Dead Sea contains a wealth of minerals and is much saltier than the ocean.
In one small clinical trial, participants who bathed in a Dead Sea salt bath or a bath with common salt for 20 minutes per day for three weeks saw a significant improvement in their psoriasis symptoms. Those who took Dead Sea salt baths had an even higher improvement in symptoms compared to people who took common salt baths.
2. Aloe vera
Creams made from extracts of the aloe vera plant can be applied to the skin to help reduce redness, scaling, itching, and inflammation. The results of clinical studies testing whether aloe vera creams help with psoriasis have shown mixed results.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a commercial aloe vera gel found no benefit of the aloe gel over the placebo. On the other hand, a study testing a topical aloe vera (0.5 percent) extract on people with psoriasis found that the aloe cream resulted in a significant clearing of the psoriatic plaques compared to a placebo cream. More research is needed.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an aloe cream may need to be used several times a day for a month or more to see any improvement.
The National Psoriasis Foundation doesn’t recommend taking aloe vera in an oral tablet form.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help decrease inflammation in the body. This can be beneficial for psoriasis symptoms. Inflammation is what causes the itchy, red flakes.
Omega-3s can be found in a variety of foods, including:
- flaxseed oil
- fatty fish
Fish oil is also available as a dietary supplement.
Research on omega-3 fatty acid supplements and psoriasis is mixed. Of 15 trials evaluating fish oil for the treatment of psoriasis, 12 trials showed a benefit in psoriasis and 3 showed no benefit.
More than half of people in a 1989 study saw moderate to excellent improvement in their psoriasis symptoms after eating a low-fat diet supplemented with fish oil for four months.
In a recent survey of 1,206 people with psoriasis, about 45 percent of those who added omega-3 fatty acids to their diet saw an improvement in their skin.
If you decide to take fish oil supplements, read the label carefully. Taking more than 3 grams per day can thin your blood. This is especially important if you’re taking blood thinning medications, like warfarin (Coumadin).
There haven’t been any large clinical trials on the use of turmeric in treating psoriasis. However, results of smaller studies using a topical turmeric gel have been encouraging.
A small study in 34 people with mild to moderate psoriasis found that turmeric gel applied twice daily for nine weeks helped improve the size, redness, thickness, and scaling of their psoriasis lesions.
Another recent double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that turmeric extract taken orally and combined with visible light phototherapy could be beneficial for people with psoriasis.
However, in another study, taking turmeric capsules by mouth wasn’t found to be effective in people with moderate to severe psoriasis.
5. Oregon grape
Oregon grape or Mahonia aquifolium is an antimicrobial herb in the barberry family.
Research has found that a cream containing an extract of the herb might help with psoriasis. In one open clinical trial, a total of 433 people with psoriasis were treated with a Mahonia aquifolium ointment. After 12 weeks, psoriasis symptoms improved or disappeared in over 80 percent of the study participants. The extract was also shown to be safe and well-tolerated.
Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 200 participants showed similar results.
6. Maintaining a healthy weight
Obesity not only increases a person’s risk of having psoriasis, but also is associated with having more severe symptoms. If you’re overweight or obese, research shows that losing weight could help improve psoriasis symptoms. Shedding some pounds can also make psoriasis treatments more effective.
Simple ways to lose weight include:
- eating more whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables
- eating lean meats and other healthy proteins
- eating less sugar
- cutting out highly processed foods
- exercising consistently
7. Using a humidifier
Try using a humidifier to keep the air in your home from getting too dry. Humidifiers add moisture to the air to prevent dryness that can irritate your already sensitive skin. The Mayo Clinic recommends a humidity level between 30 and 50 percent.
8. Stress-relieving activities
Stress is a known trigger for psoriasis flare-ups. Finding ways to reduce and manage your stress can potentially prevent flares or lessen their severity.
While no studies have been done to find out if the following activities have a direct effect on psoriasis symptoms, they have been shown to reduce stress in general:
- deep breathing exercises
- writing in a journal
The bottom line
Home remedies aren’t a replacement for your doctor’s prescriptions to treat psoriasis. Remedies like fish oil supplements, Oregon grape, and Dead Sea salt baths do show consistently strong evidence of helping with psoriasis symptoms. However, there aren’t enough large, well-controlled clinical trials to prove that these remedies work well for everyone.
Anecdotal evidence or results from studies that only include a small number of people should be taken cautiously and with some skepticism. What works for one person might not work for you.
Always tell your doctor before you start a new treatment or home remedy for psoriasis. Stop using any treatment that causes irritation, pain, or worsening of your symptoms.