Do you want to ditch the itch of guttate psoriasis?
Are you looking for natural remedies that actually work in relieving symptoms without using corticosteroids or UV light?
Read on to find out what your options are, including an at-home treatment for guttate psoriasis using red light.
What is Guttate Psoriasis?
Guttate psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that is often caused by a streptococcal infection, particularly pharyngitis (strep throat) or perianal streptococcal infection. Other guttate psoriasis triggers include upper respiratory infections such as influenza or COVID-19, tonsillitis, or certain medications.
Guttate psoriasis symptoms appear within 1-3 weeks of the initial streptococcal infection or other triggering factor. People typically develop guttate psoriasis as children and young adults, though it can also affect adults.
Symptoms usually come on suddenly and include clearly defined small, red, scaly spots. Acute guttate psoriasis lesions may appear on the torso, arms, face, ears, scalp, and legs. Guttate psoriasis often causes scaly patches, skin irritation, redness, and severe itching.
Most people who get guttate psoriasis will recover completely. However, psoriasis statistics from the National Psoriasis Foundation indicate that nearly a third of patients with guttate psoriasis may develop chronic plaque psoriasis.
Treatment Solutions for Guttate Psoriasis
There are several treatment options to reduce guttate psoriasis symptoms including topical medications, ultraviolet light treatment, as well as a host of natural remedies.
Prescription and Doctor-Administered Remedies
Doctors often prescribe corticosteroids for mild cases of guttate psoriasis. Topical steroids are administered as creams, lotions, ointments, gels, sprays, shampoos, and foams.
Anthralin (dithranol) is an anti-inflammatory that slows the growth of skin cells. It may be given alone or in combination with topical corticosteroids. Salicylic acid and topical retinoids may also be prescribed. These reduce flaky skin, redness, itching, and inflammation.
For moderate to severe cases of guttate psoriasis, doctors may prescribe immunosuppressant medications and biologic therapy that targets specific functions of the body's immune system response.
Ultraviolet light is a common treatment. Broadband ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy is an effective remedy for people with guttate psoriasis skin lesions as well as those with chronic plaque psoriasis. Or, doctors may administer PUVA which combines a photochemotherapy drug called psoralen along with ultraviolet A (UVA) light.
Though generally effective, these treatments may come with side effects. For example, UVA and UVB phototherapy can cause skin damage including raising your risk factors of developing skin cancer.
Natural At-Home Remedies
For people with mild guttate psoriasis cases who haven't had good results with medical interventions or just want to try to reduce psoriasis symptoms at home, here are some common remedies that may work. These remedies may not be enough to treat severe psoriasis.
Always try these remedies on a few small patches of skin to rule out allergic reactions, especially if you have sensitive skin.
The UVB rays naturally present in sunlight can help fight guttate psoriasis. 5-10 minutes of sun exposure daily on guttate psoriasis lesions can help. Be sure to avoid putting sunscreen on the psoriasis spots, but use sunscreen on healthy exposed skin to prevent skin damage.
Vitamin D Cream
Creams containing vitamin D are available over the counter to treat the excessive skin cell growth that characterizes guttate psoriasis and chronic plaque psoriasis.
Honey may help heal minor wounds to treat a bacterial infection. It can be applied directly to affected patches of skin, and eaten to help boost the body's immune system.
Aloe vera gel is anti inflammatory that can also help reduce the irritation and redness of guttate psoriasis. Apply unscented aloe vera gel or cream to the skin. It's best to use aloe vera topically. There’s no evidence that aloe vera capsules or aloe vera juice have any effect.
Lavender essential oil can speed up wound healing. The oil is particularly effective at treating a bacterial infection. Be sure to always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil such as olive oil and never put essential oils directly on the skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Pouring full-strength or diluted apple cider vinegar over the scalp may help with scalp itching. It’s important not to use this treatment if your scalp is cracked or bleeding; and the vinegar should be rinsed off after it dries to prevent irritation.
Thick moisturizers and petroleum jelly can help lock moisture in the skin and relieve redness. They won’t treat the condition, but may make symptoms more manageable and help with easier removal of dead skin cells. Apply to guttate lesions and cover with a bandage.
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers, may help with itching, pain, redness, and inflammation. It may sound counterintuitive to put some “heat” on guttate psoriasis, but some people swear by it. Others say it makes their skin burn.
Tea Tree Oil
Melaleuca, or tea tree oil, can help treat guttate psoriasis. It is commonly found in shampoos and lotions. Its anti-inflammatory properties may help ease symptoms.
Turmeric is the herb that gives curry its golden hue. The root has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce psoriasis flares. It can be taken as a capsule, added to food, or even put on the skin directly as a paste.
Adding ground oats to a warm bath can soothe itching and irritation. Avoid hot baths to prevent the skin from drying too much. Be sure to add moisturizer after the bath.
Epsom Salt Bath
Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfate, can soothe the skin and encourage shedding psoriasis scales. Soak in a warm Epsom salt bath for 15 minutes. Afterward, pat (don’t scrub) the skin dry with a towel and apply moisturizer to keep the skin moist.
Apply a soothing cream onto guttate psoriasis lesions, cover the area with plastic wrap, and secure the wrap using tight clothing or a bandage. This seals in the moisture and also prevents scratching the itch.
Oregon Grape Cream
This evergreen plant (not a grape at all) is found in creams that may help relieve symptoms by helping the body fight off infections and slowing the overproduction of skin cells. Look for creams with a 10% Oregon Grape concentration. might help fight bacterial and fungal infections.
Healthy Diet and Lifestyle for Treating Guttate Psoriasis
Eating healthy can support your body's immune response and may help your body fight off infections. An anti-inflammatory diet such as the Mediterranean diet features very little red meat (which can cause inflammation) and focuses on fish, fresh vegetables, fruit, and whole grains.
Also, drastically reduce or cut out sugar. Sugar is a known inflammatory and may intensify skin diseases, feed bacteria that trigger psoriasis, and increase your risk of developing bacterial or viral infections.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These powerful anti-inflammatories are found in fatty fish, or fish oil supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids are useful for treating any skin condition. Take Omega-3s orally. Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation by reducing the production of inflammatory cytokines.
Relieving chronic stress helps support your body’s natural healing processes. Meditation, yoga, tai chi, or even hobbies can relax our stress response, which supports the immune system. Yoga and tai chi are especially helpful in cases of psoriatic arthritis, where aching joints make movement painful.
Red Light Therapy for Guttate Psoriasis
Guttate psoriasis treatment with red and near-infrared light may be a solution for people with guttate psoriasis who are looking to avoid the side effects of drugs.
One of the primary ways this natural treatment supports the body is to reduce inflammation. Simply reducing inflammation can reduce symptoms of guttate psoriasis and other inflammatory skin disorders. However, red light has many other mechanisms of action that can help treat guttate psoriasis.
Red light absorbs into the layers of the skin where it stimulates cellular metabolism, promotes blood circulation and collagen production, and reduces inflammation.
Near-infrared penetrates the skin into the subcutaneous tissue, including muscle, bones, and joints. Using both red and near-infrared light boosts the effects of red light, and presents an opportunity for treating chronic underlying inflammation.
How is Guttate Psoriasis Treated with Red Light?
Red light therapy uses LED devices to shine red and/or near-infrared light onto bare skin. The light absorbs into the skin, where it interacts with light-sensitive organelles in the cells.
This interaction signals the cells to produce more ATP, which is the cells’ main fuel. That's the start of a chain of health benefits that treats chronic skin disease at the root.
As cells become more energized, they become healthier and their function improves. Healthy cells and improved cell function leads to many positive ripple effects including cells that are better able to fight off infection and pathogens and repair damage. This speeds up the healing process.
The result is a significant reduction in inflammation in the body. In the case of guttate psoriasis, chronic plaque psoriasis or other autoimmune disorders, reducing inflammation is important especially since guttate psoriasis may develop into inflammatory psoriasis in a third of patients.
Well-functioning cells also replicate when they’re supposed to, unlike the uncontrolled replication of skin cells affected by psoriasis.
Red light has an effect on blood circulation and collagen production as well. These two mechanisms help support the body in recovering quicker from guttate psoriasis.
Scientific Basis for Using Red Light to Treat Guttate Psoriasis Symptoms
A Dutch study found that both red light and blue light were effective in reducing psoriasis symptoms in 20 patients. The light treatments were given three times a week for four consecutive weeks. In addition to the light, a 10% salicylic solution was used topically to remove scaling that could interfere with light absorption into the skin.
Other research used a combination of 630nm (red) and 830 nm (near infrared) light. Nine patients with chronic psoriasis were treated sequentially with red and near-infrared light in two 20-minute sessions every other day (48 hours apart) for 4-5 weeks. At the end of the study, psoriasis clearance rates ranged from 60% to 100%.
One of the most appealing aspects of red LED therapy is that it does not have side effects. Even people with sensitive or highly irritated skin can generally use it safely.
Note that red and near infrared light does not include UVA or UVB wavelengths. It does not cause any sunburn or other skin problems.
BIOMAX Series for Optimal Treatment
The BIOMAX series of therapeutic LED panels stand out for treatment of any chronic skin disease including guttate psoriasis because they are powerful (the highest light energy delivery in their power class), high-quality, medical-grade devices with a variety of uses.
In addition to delivering two red wavelengths and three near infrared wavelengths, the BIOMAX series also deliver trace amounts of 480nm blue light which has been shown to reduce overproduction of keratinocytes (skin cells) in psoriasis patients.
Choose from four RLT panel sizes; link these modular panels together to increase power and coverage even more; and enjoy the benefits of red and near-infrared light in comfort using the convenience of vertical or horizontal stands.
The Learning Center is filled with valuable information on the many conditions that respond well to red light therapy.