8 Home Remedies for Psoriasis You Can Try Today
Number 8 will surprise you...
More than 8 million Americans are affected by psoriasis, with many experiencing limited success with conventional remedies for this autoimmune disease. Currently, there’s no cure for any type of psoriasis, so managing the flare ups caused by the condition are a top priority. Cleansing your body of those unsightly, scaly, and itchy red patches isn’t easy, nor is unburdening your mind from the severe emotional distress and loss of confidence that comes along with it.
To make matters worse, conventional psoriasis treatments (such as OTC creams and oral prescription medications) can have unpleasant side effects including allergic reactions. This, coupled with the possible ineffectiveness of these treatments, leads many people to try alternative remedies.
In this article, we’ll discuss seven home remedies for psoriasis you can try today—to feel better and help restore normal, healthy skin, while also improving your overall quality of life. And make sure to stay tuned until the end, as number seven is absolutely critical.
The 8 Best Natural Home Remedies for Psoriasis
Since everyone is different, start slowly and test the following remedies on your skin before committing to a treatment. If you have any questions or doubts about any of these home remedies, consult your doctor.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has long been used as a versatile healing substance thanks to its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Apple cider vinegar as a natural cure for psoriasis has been a proven success for quite a while now.
ACV is fermented in a process that produces acetic acid—the primary active compound in vinegar. Organic, unfiltered ACV also contains a substance called "mother.” This combination of enzymes, beneficial bacteria, and proteins give organic ACV a cloudy appearance and the "mother" is believed to be responsible for most of apple cider vinegar’s varied health benefits.
Apple cider vinegar can kill harmful bacteria on the skin including E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans.
In fact, ACV reduces the numbers of some bacteria by 90% and certain viruses by 95%. Because of its antibacterial and antiviral properties, ACV is used topically to treat bacterial infections, including nail fungus and acne. It is also a common remedy for eczema.
Infections including strep throat and various skin infections can trigger psoriasis flares. Applying apple cider vinegar to the skin can help balance the skin’s natural pH and simultaneously kill harmful bacteria.
How to Use ACV
Before you try using apple cider vinegar on your psoriasis, be sure to test a small area for sensitivity. ACV can cause a burning sensation in some individuals.
As a beverage
Dilute ACV in water and drink it every morning. Start with one teaspoon in a 12-oz. glass of water and gradually increase the dose to up to 2 tablespoons. Avoid taking ACV in large amounts as it can erode tooth enamel and may interact with certain drugs.
As a bath
Add 2 cups of ACV to a warm bath (not hot, since hot baths irritate skin). Soak for 15-20 minutes, then thoroughly rinse your body with cool water. Follow with a moisturizer or oil that will help hydrate the skin.
As a wet wrap
Add 1 tablespoon of ACV to 1 cup of warm water. Soak a gauze pad in the solution and squeeze out any excess liquid. Apply the gauze to the psoriasis flare and cover with a cotton dressing. Wear the wet wrap for at least three hours or overnight.
As a scalp tonic
After showering, pour some full-strength or diluted ACV on your scalp. Let your hair dry naturally, then rinse the ACV out to avoid irritation. Never
apply ACV to cracked skin or psoriasis scales that are bleeding.
Apple cider vinegar appears to be safe in moderate amounts. Discontinue use if you have any adverse reactions.
2. Epsom Salt or Oatmeal Baths
Colloidal oatmeal is an anti-inflammatory that soothes irritated, itchy skin. You can buy colloidal oatmeal or make your own by finely grinding oatmeal and boiling it to extract the colloidal material. Oats have high concentrations of starches and beta-glucan, which helps the skin retain moisture. Different types of phenols provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and some measure of UV absorption. In addition, oats contain saponin, which cleanses the skin.
Add 1-2 cups to lukewarm water and soak for 15 minutes. If you don’t have time to make colloidal oatmeal, put the oats directly into the water, make a paste in your
hands, and apply the paste to irritated skin. Colloidal baths can dry out the skin if used for prolonged periods, so lock in the moisture by applying lotion or a light oil after bathing.
3. Epsom Salt:
Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts are magnesium-rich salts that soothe irritated skin. Bathing in Dead Sea salts improves skin-barrier function, enhances skin hydration, and reduces redness and inflammation; these effects are likely due to the high magnesium content. Dissolve two cups of salt in warm bath water and soak for 15 minutes. Gently pat your skin dry and then apply a moisturizer or light oil to seal in the moisture.
Again, avoid bathing in hot water, as this can irritate skin and dry it out.
It might seem counterintuitive to put hot pepper on irritated skin, but Cayenne pepper powder has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Capsaicin—the active component in peppers that’s responsible for heat—is an anti-inflammatory that relieves pain and itching, and reduces redness. It is available as a cream.
After a few weeks of daily use, you may see changes in scaling and erythema, as well as overall reduction of psoriasis flares.
Capsaicin often causes a burning sensation, but most people build up a tolerance. Be sure to avoid touching your eyes or mouth, and thoroughly wash your hands immediately after applying capsaicin cream.
5. Oregon Grape (Barberry)
This evergreen plant (Mahonia aquifolium) is native to North America and has anti-inflammatory properties useful in treating skin disorders. Regular application of Oregon Grape often significantly improves psoriasis symptoms and atopic dermatitis with few, if any, side effects. Oregon Grape can be applied topically as a cream (10% Oregon Grape extract) to treat psoriasis and various skin infections, and internally to ease reflux and stomach upset.
6. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is an essential oil native to Australia. Essential oils (the distilled extracts of a plant, containing beneficial compounds in high concentrations) are extremely potent, and are usually mixed with carrier oils to reduce the chance of side effects. Tea Tree Oil can be used in several ways to treat psoriasis.
- Add a few drops to lukewarm bath water and soak for 15 minutes.
- Combine 1-part tea tree oil with 10-parts shampoo to treat psoriasis on the scalp.
- Mix tea tree oil with water or a carrier oil such as olive oil, argan oil or coconut oil. Soak a gauze pad with the mixture, squeeze out any excess liquid, apply to the affected area and wrap with a cotton dressing. Leave it on overnight and wash with a mild soap in the morning.
7. UVB for Psoriasis at Home
Natural sunshine has been touted as a therapy for psoriasis in moderate amounts. However, too much sun exposure can accelerate skin aging and even lead to certain types of skin cancer.
A safer alternative is ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy, which can be administered by a dermatologist using an ultraviolet light therapy machine. Under a doctor’s supervision, patients can also administer ultraviolet light therapy at home.
UVB is a spectrum of light present in natural sunlight. It penetrates the uppermost layers of the skin where it slows the growth of psoriasis-affected skin cells to reduce scaling, itching, and inflammation.
There are two types of UVB treatments for psoriasis: Broadband (a wider spectrum of UVB wavelengths) and narrowband. Narrowband UVB light has been found to be more effective, as it may clear psoriasis flares faster, produce longer remissions, and require fewer treatments per week than broadband UVB.
The key to success with light therapy is consistency. You will need to commit to several weekly treatments over the course of several months to clear the flares. Once the flares subside, a maintenance program will minimize future flares.
Treating psoriasis at home using a UVB light unit requires a prescription from a dermatologist. Many patients will begin treatment in-office and then switch to home units for convenience.
UVB phototherapy shouldn’t be considered a “DIY” approach. It’s essential to follow a doctor’s prescribed treatment protocol and get regular check-ups because of the potential for overexposure and skin damage.
The main downside of UVB phototherapy is that too much exposure can be harmful and can lead to redness, blistering, accelerated skin aging, and skin cancer.
While UVB phototherapy is thought to be the most effective conventional treatment, it’s not without risks. Fortunately, there is a type of phototherapy that is safe, free of unwanted side effects, and most importantly, effective.
8. Home Red-Light Treatment for Psoriasis
You don’t need to commit to several weekly visits to the dermatologist to treat psoriasis. You can do it in the comfort and convenience of home using high-quality LED panels that emit the red-light spectrum.
The best skin-therapy results using red light are achieved over time. Begin with 3-5 sessions per week for 5-15 minutes each, and after about one month, you should notice psoriasis flares starting to diminish. Then, reduce treatments to 2-3 times per week until the psoriasis is in remission. After your skin has returned to its normal healthy appearance, continue with 1-2 treatments per week as maintenance to prevent flares.
You may start to see and feel the effects of red light within a few weeks; or, if you have severe psoriasis, it may take a few months. Since red light should not be considered a cure, long-term maintenance treatments are necessary. However, since red light is painless (all you feel is a gentle warmth) it’s a pleasurable experience. Some people may experience temporary redness or tightness in the skin, rather than the burning that you would experience with overexposure to UVB light.
Selecting a high-quality home device is important. High light output devices that deliver high-intensity red light via light-emitting diodes (LED) lets you target psoriasis flares anywhere on your body.
How Does Red Light Therapy Treat Psoriasis?
Red light therapy (also called low-level laser light therapy or LLLT) exposes the skin to longer wavelengths of visible light (630-700nm). It’s a deeper penetration than UVB light, which measures from 280 to 320nm. This means red light has greater therapeutic value.
For more information, check out our in-depth article on using red light for psoriasis.
As it penetrates deep into the skin and underlying layers of tissue, red light has a number of therapeutic effects.
Red light stimulates the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), a coenzyme responsible for producing more energy in the mitochondria (cellular energy centers). Increases in ATP means cells have more energy—and energized cells function properly and replicate successfully. Psoriasis causes cells to replicate abnormally fast (10x the normal rate) and the body can’t keep up with shedding them. It’s the buildup of dead skin cells that results in red, scaly, itchy, and painful flares. Balancing the growth/death rate of cells will help reduce flares.
Red light stimulates the production of collagen. Increasing collagen production may seem like the last thing you want because collagen production is already exaggerated in psoriasis. However, as new skin cells are born, collagen is necessary for the formation of healthy new skin to replace the diminished psoriasis plaques.
Red light stimulates the creation of new capillaries. As blood flow increases to affected areas, it carries with it nutrients and removes waste that can damage skin cells.
Red light reduces cell apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death, helping to balance the rate at which skin cells proliferate and die.
Red light stimulates the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made up of tissues and organs that transport lymph, a waste-flushing fluid that contains white blood cells. Skin that’s clean from the inside out leads to healthier skin, while the presence of lymph also helps prevent infections that can cause or amplify psoriasis flares.
Red light decreases inflammation, which is a leading cause of autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis.
Red light promotes better moods, helping you manage the emotional impact of psoriasis.
The takeaway is that red light helps to restore normal, healthy cell function. Rather than focusing solely on treating the symptoms of psoriasis, red light also promotes cellular healing and systemic balancing.
Red light also helps improve the appearance of otherwise normal skin. Red light:
- Reduces signs of skin damage from excessive UVA/UVB (sun) exposure
- Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
- Reduces the appearance of scars
- Treats acne and rosacea
- Speeds wound healing
- Treats hair loss
Aside from improving skin tone and appearance, red light also:
- Improves thyroid function
- Promotes muscle healing and recovery
- Promotes healthy sleep patterns
- Relieves the pain of rheumatoid arthritis
The Lighter Side of Skin Therapy with Red Light
While these home remedies are generally effective on mild-to-moderate cases of psoriasis, UVB phototherapy and red light phototherapy promote skin health with ease, convenience, and effectiveness. Given the potential for long-term skin damage from UVB light, however, red light emerges as the top home remedy for psoriasis.