More than 8 million Americans are affected by psoriasis, with many experiencing limited success with conventional remedies for this incurable inflammatory autoimmune disease.
Since conventional psoriasis treatments can have unpleasant side effects, you may be interested in the following home remedies.
Some work better than others, but they’re all worth a try, also given that many of them may have other lifestyle and health benefits.
Home Remedies for Treating Psoriasis
These natural home remedies shouldn’t be considered cures for plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, or scalp psoriasis.
However, they can help in managing psoriasis symptoms, whereas red light therapy can help reduce inflammation that may contribute to flare-ups.
Here are some of the options:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Oatmeal baths
- Epsom salts
- Oregon grape (barberry)
- Tea tree oil
- Petroleum jelly/thick moisturizers
- Moderate sun exposure
- At-home UVB treatments
- Vitamin D supplements
- Meditation and Yoga
- Nighttime moisturizing wraps
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Aloe vera
- Medical therapy
Let’s look at these traditional home remedies in greater detail!
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a versatile healing substance thanks to its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. It can be used to ease psoriasis symptoms, and treat eczema, nail fungus, dandruff, and acne.
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 gives organic ACV a cloudy appearance, and the "mother" is believed to be responsible for most of its varied health benefits.
Apple cider vinegar can kill harmful bacteria on the skin including E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans. ACV reduces 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 Apple Cider Vinegar for Psoriasis
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.
In 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. 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 Salts
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.
We recommend that you avoid bathing in excessively hot water with epsom salts, 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 is available as a cream (10% extract) to treat psoriasis and skin infections, and internally as a tincture or pill to ease reflux and stomach upset.
6. Tea Tree Oil
Melaleuca alternifolia is a tree native to Australia. Its essential oil is known as melaleuca or tea tree oil. This potent oil is usually mixed with carrier oils to reduce the chance of side effects.
Tea tree oil is used to treat acne, insect bites, minor wounds, contact dermatitis, and fungal or bacterial skin infections. It can also be used as a hand sanitizer and insect repellent.
Combine 10 drops of tea tree oil with 2 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil. Mix well, and apply to the affected area up to twice a day. You can also use tea tree oil on a wet wrap overnight.
You can also add a few drops to lukewarm bath water and soak for 15 minutes, use a tea tree shampoo to soothe the scalp, or add a few drops to your favorite shampoo.
Tea tree oil is poisonous if ingested, so it should be used with caution.
7. Petroleum Jelly and Other Thick Moisturizers
Sealing moisture on the skin can help soothe irritation and keep the skin moist. Thick moisturizers such as petroleum jelly, shea butter, or moisturizers specifically intended for people with psoriasis can help trap moisture on the skin.
Beware, though, that some moisturizers can cause allergic reactions.
8. Moderate Sun Exposure
The ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight slow the psoriatic overgrowth of skin cells. However, moderation is essential to avoid skin damage since sunburn can trigger or worsen psoriasis symptoms.
Expose the skin to direct sunlight for 5-10 minutes without sunscreen, which blocks UV rays. Short exposures will give you the benefits of natural sunlight with minimal risk of burns.
Start slowly, with 5 minutes of sunscreen-free sun exposure, working up to longer sessions of 10 minutes. This is not a great treatment for people with very fair or sensitive skin or anyone with skin cancer.
9. At-Home UVB Treatments
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. On the other hand, red light stimulates the production of new collagen to reduce wrinkles and giving you younger-looking skin.
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.
10. Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D that your body synthesizes naturally after sun exposure can slow the growth of new cells. It can be taken as a supplement or topical treatment instead of sun exposure.
Always take supplements with caution and under a doctor’s supervision, as too much of a good thing can backfire.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, a spice found in world cuisine. Curcumin has powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Among its many uses, turmeric has been used to treat joint pain, acting much like a natural non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
In psoriasis, curcumin can reduce oxidative stress in cells. It also reduces inflammation which means curcumin can potentially treat psoriasis both externally as a topical treatment, and internally as a supplement.
Researchers believe curcumin inhibits a protein called phosphorylase kinase (PhK), which is involved in the overproduction of skin cells.
12. Meditation and Yoga
Chronic stress is a major contributing factor to mitochondrial dysfunction and thus, stress could be a major contributing factor to inflammatory disorders such as psoriasis. Good stress management can help restore homeostasis (equilibrium) in the body.
Meditation and yoga are two great examples of ancient practices with far-reaching health and wellness benefits. Yoga also helps keep the body supple and limber.
13. Nighttime Moisturizing Wraps
Keeping the skin moisturized overnight can help prevent the skin from drying out. Moisturizing wraps, or wet wraps, consist of three main steps:
- Apply moisturizer or corticosteroid cream to the affected area
- Wrap the skin in a warm, damp cloth bandage
- Wrap a layer of dry bandage over the damp bandage
Each course of treatment of overnight wraps should last 3-5 days. Wet wraps should not be used too frequently because of the chance of damp skin becoming irritated or infected.
14. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are fats that support many bodily functions and act as an anti-inflammatory. The body does not produce these fatty acids naturally, so they must be taken as a supplement or in dietary form.
Salmon, fish oil supplements, seeds, sea vegetables (seaweed), nuts, berries, and green vegetables are great sources of Omega-3s.
Today, you can even buy fish oil supplements that don’t have a fishy taste!
15. Aloe Vera
The gel of the aloe vera plant is well-known as an anti-sunburn remedy. It can also provide soothing relief from psoriasis flare ups.
People with psoriasis can use gel directly from the aloe plant, or use a cream that contains at least 0.5 percent aloe vera.
“All disease begins in the gut,” said ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. Probiotics are live microorganisms that help your body’s natural healing mechanisms by improving gut health, specifically by restoring and balancing the gut flora that assists in digestion.
Plain cultured yogurt is a great source of probiotics. Choose plain yogurt to avoid sugar, which is a known inflammatory substance. Other probiotic-rich foods are kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, miso, tempeh, kimchi, and sourdough bread.
17. Medical Treatment Options
Complementary and alternative medicine is attractive to many people with psoriasis who don't want the side effects of traditional medications.
Homeopathy is an alternative treatment modality that takes a similar approach as vaccines: introducing a very small amount of a substance into the body to stimulate the healing response (in large doses, the substance would produce symptoms of illness).
Homeopathic treatments can be done at home, but are developed for psoriasis patients by a practitioner.
While you may see varying degrees of relief by trying out some of these home remedies, we recommend checking out red light therapy as well. It’s a recently emerging solution that is affordable, offers consistent treatment, and can be made available at home.
Red Light Therapy for Psoriasis
Red light therapy involves directing specific wavelengths of light: 630-660nm visible red light, and/or 810-850 invisible near-infrared (NIR) light to bare skin.
As light photons absorb into the skin and the underlying tissue, they interact with light-sensitive chromophores in each cell and spark a chain reaction of positive benefits. Red light:
- Stimulates the production of new capillaries, increasing the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the skin
- Stimulates the lymphatic system, optimizing waste removal for healthier and less inflamed skin
- Stimulates collagen and elastin synthesis (psoriasis and other autoimmune disorders interfere with collagen production)
- Stimulates the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the cells’ mitochondria, which are the energy “factories” within each cell. An energized cell has more capabilities to perform its normal functions including regeneration and self-healing. Researchers found that ATP reduces inflammation that can contribute to psoriasis symptoms.
Since red light treatments support normal cell function, this could over time normalize skin cell turnover resulting in fewer, less intense flares.
Red light treats psoriasis at the cellular level. It’s not a quick fix, but with consistent use, you could experience dramatic results.
- Start with short two to five-minute sessions to determine your skin’s sensitivity. Sensitive individuals may experience temporary mild redness and tightness due to increased blood flow, but red/NIR light won’t burn the skin like ultraviolet rays.
- Aim for daily sessions, or at least three to five sessions per week until flares subside. Each session should last for five to fifteen minutes. Once your psoriasis is in remission, continue with 1-2 maintenance treatments to minimize future flares.
- Depending on the severity of your psoriasis, you may see results within a few treatments, but severe cases will require several months of consistent treatment.
Get the best results with a powerful light emitting diode (LED) therapy device that delivers high-intensity red light and therapeutic red/NIR wavelengths. Smaller LED panels are great for targeted treatments, while larger panels are ideal for whole-body treatments.
Check out our red light therapy learning center for more information.
It helps to use consistent treatment and to be patient, as red light works from within. You can use the treatment time to meditate, which stimulates the body’s self-healing capabilities.
Red Light: the Lighter Side of Skin Therapy
While these herbal and natural remedies for treating psoriasis are generally effective in treating mild-to-moderate psoriasis cases, red LED light treatments promote skin health naturally at the cellular level.
Research into the use of red light for psoriasis is still limited, but it shows great promise. The skin-regenerating benefits and lack of side effects may make red LED light the best home treatment option for psoriasis available today.
Red light can be used for whole-body inflammation reduction, suggesting that red LED light treatments could be one important element of preventive self-care.
To get relief from psoriasis, check out the most powerful LED therapy lights on the market: the BIOMAX series.