Truth or myth: psoriasis home remedies
Adding salt to your bath, taking turmeric, changing your diet: there are a multitude of purported home remedies for psoriasis, each of which promises to improve the lives of people living with the condition. But do they really work? Here, we look at some of these non-medical treatments and what the scientific research tells us about how effective they actually are.
One home remedy that people often say may help ease the itching and remove the hard, scaly skin that comes with psoriasis is a 15-minute soak in a warm (but not hot) bath containing Epsom or Dead Sea salts. And the science suggests those who recommend this might be onto something. One small clinical trial has shown that using ordinary bath salts for a daily soak may bring about a significant improvement in psoriasis symptoms, with Dead Sea salts said to provide an even greater level of benefit. However, since 25 of the patients terminated the treatment protocol, there is not enough evidence to demonstrate that this remedy works.
Apple cider vinegar
Its effectiveness at helping aid weight loss is much-discussed, but did you know apple cider vinegar may also relieve an itchy scalp caused by psoriasis? Diluting organic apple cider vinegar in a 1:1 ratio with water and applying it to the head several times a week may provide relief. This one is to be avoided, though, if your scalp is cracked or bleeding.
Natural ingredients in skincare products
There are many different ingredients found in products such as face washes and moisturisers which are said to have skin-soothing benefits. Some of the most popular of these are aloe vera, oatmeal and jojoba, all of which feature frequently in suggested home remedies for psoriasis.
Creams containing aloe vera are reported by some to help the uncomfortable symptoms of psoriasis when applied to the skin, although studies have shown mixed results and experts say more research needs to be done to know for sure how well aloe vera works. In any case, it is not recommended that you take it in tablet form, as doing so may be dangerous.
Jojoba is a plant which contains long-chain alcohols and fatty acids, and is used in many cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Jojoba liquid waxes have been known to contain anti-inflammatory properties and one study conducted in 2016 found evidence to suggest that jojoba may be helpful in combating the symptoms of psoriasis.
There is a lack of hard scientific evidence that oats help to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis, although some people have reported a reduction in itching and skin redness when using an oat paste or bath on the skin. To try this, you’ll need to use colloidal oatmeal, which is a finely ground form that dissolves in hot water and won’t clog up your drains.
Omega-3 oils, which can be found in foods such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, are thought to help reduce inflammation. Because of this, it has been suggested that omega-3 oils could aid with the symptoms of psoriasis. In one study in Denmark, around half of the participants felt they experienced some improvement in their symptoms after adding fish oil to their diet over a four month period. However, on the whole, research into the link between omega-3 oils and psoriasis has been inconclusive.
Another ingredient found in food and believed to have anti-inflammatory properties is turmeric. Participants in some small scale studies found their symptoms improved when turmeric gel was applied topically, or turmeric extract was taken orally in combination with other treatments. As no large clinical trials have been held to date, there is no definitive evidence of the effectiveness of turmeric for treating psoriasis at present.
Home remedies may help relieve the symptoms of psoriasis, but they are not replacements for medication or other treatments recommended by dermatologists. Speak to a healthcare professional for more advice on the treatments that will suit you best.