Here Are the Psoriasis Home Remedies That Dermatologists Approve
If you’re living with psoriasis, don’t be surprised if you’re experiencing more flares than usual right now, says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor dermatology at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. Stress is one of the most common triggers for psoriasis flares — and living with a chronic illness amid the coronavirus pandemic can certainly make levels of stress and anxiety skyrocket.
Stress and anxiety can also cause many patients with psoriasis to pick at the scaly plaques that are a hallmark of psoriasis, says Dr. Gohara. Yet picking is one of the worst things you can do, as it can cause trauma to the skin. This, in turn, can cause psoriasis plaques to develop in areas where you’ve never had them before, she says. This is known as Koebner’s Phenomenon.
In addition to your regular psoriasis treatment, which can range from topical creams and ultraviolet light therapy to biologics (such as adalimumab [Humira], etanercept [Enbrel], ustekinumab [Stelara], guselkumab [Tremfya], ixekizumab [Taltz], or secukinumab [Cosentyx]), oral disease-modifying treatment (methotrexate and cyclosporine), and PDE-4 inhibitors (such as apremilast [Otezla]), many patients are looking to add home remedies to their shelter-in-place plan to help control these extra flares.
Home remedies are never a replacement for a prescribed treatment regimen, but can possibly supplement it. Home remedies for psoriasis — especially in the middle of coronavirus quarantine — should be inexpensive, accessible, and effective, so we asked dermatologists for their input about home remedies they would recommend.
But first, a word of caution: Don’t fill up that Amazon cart just yet, warns Dr. Gohara. “Now is not the time to experiment and try something totally new,” she says.
If you’re experiencing more flares, setting up a teledermatology visit should be your first step.
Managing Psoriasis Flares Under Quarantine
Here is a round-up of dermatologist-approved tips for managing psoriasis, as part of your overall treatment regimen, while at home.
Remember: What works for you will likely depend on how serious your psoriasis symptoms are (mild, moderate, or severe) and where they’re located.
Our experts say that controlling stress should top your at-home health goals for psoriasis. “Find your Zen zone for 20 minutes a day,” says Dr. Gohara.
Whether this means practicing meditation; taking a virtual class for dance, yoga, or tai chi; biking or walking; or baking — “it has to ring true for you,” says Amy Wechsler, MD, who is board-certified in both dermatology and psychiatry and author of the book The Mind-Beauty Connection.
Soak up some sun
If you’re not getting your regular ultraviolet light therapy, a five- to minute midafternoon sun session, three times a week, can do wonders for your mood and skin, says Dr. Gohara. Make sure to cover healthy skin with sunscreen and clothing so only areas affected by psoriasis get exposure to the sun.
Sun exposure can give you a boost of vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” your body makes from being exposed to UV light. While having low vitamin D levels won’t cause psoriasis, people with psoriasis do tend to be deficient in vitamin D. A study in the journal Science Translational Medicine found that vitamin D can help counteract the body’s response to inflammation associated with psoriasis.
Use a non-soap cleanser
A gentle non-soap cleanser is great for washing your hands without over-drying your skin or destroying your skin barrier, says Dr. Gohara. Her family-favorite is Dove, but your dermatologist knows your psoriasis best and will likely have a suggestion that’s right for you. A non-soap cleanser does not mean your skin will be getting less clean.
According to Sharecare, this is the difference between “regular” soap and a non-soap cleanser: “Regular soap can contain harsh surfactant ingredients that can strip your skin of its natural moisture. Non-soap cleansing products contain synthetic surfactant ingredients, which are milder than regular soap, and can help keep skin healthy and moisturized.”
Soak in a skin-soothing bath
A safer, less potentially traumatic way to remove psoriasis scales than picking at them or using a sponge or loofah to rub them away, is to add a little table salt to your bath and use the gentle grit from the salt, notes Dr. Gohara.
An alternative pantry staple to soak your skin: whole milk, says Dr. Wechsler, which has anti-inflammatory properties in the fat. “It’s an old-time, tried-and-true skin care technique,” she says. “Cleopatra used to bathe in milk.”
Invest in a humidifier
People with psoriasis can keep their skin moist and reduce flares by using a good home humidifier, says Dr. Gohara. Before making an online purchase, consider the size of your bedroom, tank capacity, noise level, and ease of use.
Use the right shampoo
If you have scalp psoriasis, the most effective over-the-counter shampoos contain coal tar (which helps suppress inflammation on the scalp) or salicylic acid (which exfoliates the scalp). Try Neutrogena T-Gel, DHS-Tar, Neutrogena T-Sal, or DHA-Sal. Read more here about managing scalp psoriasis flaking.
Pick a thick moisturizer
To prevent a psoriasis flare, you want to moisturize with something that is thick and reparative and has anti-inflammatory properties. Dr. Gohar likes Eau Thermale Avene Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream.
Seek guidance on herbs and supplements
Numerous herbs and supplements have been touted for ant-inflammatory properties that purport to help the immune system and fight inflammation — yet both Dr. Gohara and Dr. Wechsler say there isn’t enough research yet to know for sure. Be sure to talk with your dermatologist — about dosage, drug interactions, and side effects – before trying the following popular herbs and supplements that are commonly touted for psoriasis:
Fish oil or omega-3 supplements: According to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, there is “moderate evidence” that fish oils might benefit people with psoriasis.
Probiotics: A small study of 26 patients with psoriasis showed that a specific type of probiotic called Bifidobacterium infantis may help regulate inflammatory responses in the body. Beyond supplements, probiotics are found in yogurt and fermented foods.
Tumeric: This centuries-old spice is touted for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can be found in curries as well as supplement form. Studies have found that turmeric alters TNF cytokine expression, which for some, can help minimize psoriasis flares.
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape): Also known as barberry, this flowering plant native to North America has been studied in the treatment of mild to moderate plaque psoriasis.
“The most important thing during periods of stress is to sleep. Every organ, including our skin, heals in our sleep,” says Wechsler. “If you’re getting less than 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, it’s going to be much harder to heal a psoriasis flare and the flare can be worse.”
In addition to practicing good sleep hygiene, including sticking to a consistent wake-sleep schedule, Dr. Wechsler tells her patients to limit media consumption. “It’s not healthy to watch the news 24/7,” she says. “There should be nothing agitating or stressful coming to your brain through your TV, phone, or computer for at least two hours before you try to go to sleep.” Read more here about a psychologist’s advice on “media fasting.”
Being quarantined at home can make it more challenging to get enough physical activity. In addition, people who are suddenly working from home may be sitting more — and psoriasis can come out in those pressure points, says Dr. Gohara.
It’s important to move every day, ideally for at least 30 minutes. You can break up activities into small chunks to give yourself mini breaks throughout the day. Go for a walk, take a bike ride, do a yoga routine, pace your home during a work call. By taking control of your physical and mental health, you can better control your psoriasis during the coronavirus pandemic.
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12 Ways to Treat Psoriasis at Home
Psoriasis is a recurring autoimmune disorder characterized by red, flaky patches on the skin.
Even though it affects your skin, psoriasis actually begins deep inside your body in your immune system.
It comes from your T cells, a type of white blood cell. T cells are designed to protect the body from infection and disease. When these cells mistakenly become active and set off other immune responses, it can lead to psoriasis symptoms.
Even though there’s no cure, many treatments exist to ease the symptoms of psoriasis. Here are 12 ways to manage mild symptoms at home.
2. Prevent dry skin
Use a humidifier to keep the air in your home or office moist. This can help prevent dry skin before it starts.
Moisturizers for sensitive skin can keep your skin supple and preventing plaques from forming.
3. Try aloe
Aloe vera has been shown in some cases to reduce redness and irritation caused by psoriasis. A found aloe vera gel cream to be slightly more effective in improving psoriasis symptoms compared to percent triamcinolone acetonide, a steroid cream used to treat psoriasis.
More research is needed to show for sure if aloe vera can improve symptoms of psoriasis. However, the risk of trying aloe vera gels or creams is low, so it may be worth a try.
4. Avoid fragrances
Most soaps and perfumes have dyes and other chemicals in them that may irritate your skin. They can make you smell great, but they also can inflame psoriasis.
Avoid such products when you can, or choose those with “sensitive skin” labels.
5. Eat healthfully
Diet may play a role in managing psoriasis.
Eliminating red meat, saturated fats, refined sugars, carbohydrates, and alcohol may help reduce flare-ups triggered by such foods.
Cold water fish, seeds, nuts, and omega-3 fatty acids are known for their ability to reduce inflammation. This can be helpful for managing psoriasis symptoms.
Olive oil may also have soothing benefits when applied topically to the skin. Try massaging a few tablespoons on your scalp to help loosen troublesome plaques during your next shower.
Apple cider vinegar has also been found to be a good detoxifier for the body. You can drink it or apply it directly to plaques on the skin with a wash cloth.
6. Soak your body
A lukewarm bath with Epsom salt, mineral oil, milk, or olive oil can soothe the itching and infiltrate scales and plaques. Oatmeal baths can also be very helpful and soothing for plaque psoriasis.
Be sure that the water is not hot. Hot water can cause more irritation.
Moisturize immediately after your bath for double benefits.
7. Get some rays
Light therapy involves exposing your skin to ultraviolet light under the supervision of a doctor.
Ultraviolet light can help slow the growth of skin cells triggered by psoriasis. This therapy often requires consistent and frequent sessions. Sitting in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes can also help reduce plaques.
Tanning beds aren’t a good method of achieving light therapy. Too much sunlight can actually worsen psoriasis.
Light therapy should always be done under the supervision of a doctor.
8. Reduce stress
Any chronic condition like psoriasis can be a source of stress, which in turn can worsen psoriasis symptoms.
In addition to reducing stress whenever possible, consider incorporating stress-reducing practices such as yoga and meditation.
9. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol is a trigger for many people who have psoriasis.
A study in found an increased risk of psoriasis among women who drank nonlight beer. Those who drank at least five nonlight beers per week were nearly twice as likely to develop psoriasis compared to women who didn’t drink.
Herbs are commonly used to treat many conditions.
Turmeric has been found to help minimize psoriasis flare-ups. It can be taken in pill or supplement form, or sprinkled on your food.
Talk to your doctor about the potential benefits for you.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese puts you at a greater risk of developing psoriasis. Obesity is also associated with more severe psoriasis symptoms. have found that losing weight can help improve these symptoms.
Here are some tips for losing weight:
- exercise on a regular basis
- cut back on refined carbs
- eat plenty of vegetables and protein
There isn’t a single answer for keeping the symptoms of psoriasis at bay. What works for one person may not work for another.
Some treatment options may have negative side effects for preexisting conditions other than psoriasis.
While these remedies for psoriasis may help with mild cases, prescription therapy is required for more severe cases. Talk to your doctor before seeking treatment on your own.
“Changing my diet made a huge difference for my psoriasis. I went on a diet to lose weight and an unexpected, very welcome side effect of this was that my elbows cleared up considerably!”
— Clare, living with psoriasis
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