Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. Most commonly it appears on your elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms and feet, but it can show up on other parts of your body. Here are some natural remedies to ease symptoms and minimize flare-ups.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, meaning that part of the body’s own immune system becomes overactive and attacks normal tissues in the body. It is believed that currently 7.4 million Americans suffer from it with varying degrees of severity (i). Skin cells have a normal renewal cycle of 4 to 6 weeks, but this is accelerated in psoriasis which causes the build up of dead skin cells.
Sufferers often notice times when their skin gets worse. Things that can influence flare-ups include a cold and dry climate, infections, stress, dry skin, alcohol consumption and taking certain medications. A family history of this skin condition also plays a part in the likelihood of suffering at some point in a person’s life.
In extreme cases psoriasis can result in joints becoming swollen, tender, and painful. This is called psoriatic arthritis. This form of arthritis can also affect the fingernails and toenails, causing the nail to pit, change color and separate from the nail bed. Dead skin can also build up under the nails.
It is not contagious but sufferers often feel self conscious, especially teenagers, if the affected patches are very visible. There is no cure and mainstream medical treatment is through harsh prescription creams and medications, many of which are only approved for use on adults. These include topical steroid creams which can cause skin thinning with prolonged use.
Here are some natural and effective home remedies to control the symptoms and prevent infection.
1. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar has been used by ancient cultures as a disinfectant, so can help relieve an itchy scalp from psoriasis. In addition, it will restore a natural pH to the skin.
Buy organic apple cider vinegar and apply it to your scalp several times a week – or dilute with equal parts water to reduce any burning or stinging sensations. Do not do this if you have broken skin in the rash area as the vinegar will cause further irritation.
During bouts of inflammation an ACV compress can be very soothing. Mix 1 part vinegar with 3 parts warm water and soak a soft cloth or small towel in the solution. Apply to affected zones leaving it on for a minute or two. Repeat several times during the day for relief.
Alternatively patients find relief by drinking apple cider vinegar. Add a teaspoon into a glass of water and drink twice a day, this is a good detoxifying drink at any time, but especially effective during periods where the psoriasis is very active.
2. EPSOM SALTS
Epsom salt, otherwise known as magnesium sulfate, is absorbed through the skin, where it draws toxins from the body, sedates the nervous system, reduces swelling, relaxes muscles, is a natural emollient, exfoliator, and much more. The name is derived from Epsom in Surrey, England, where the salt was first produced.
Adding Epsom salts or Dead Sea Salts to warm, but not hot bath water helps to relieve psoriasis and eczema. It reduces the itching and irritation and can soften the scaly patches.
Add 2 cups of the salts into the warm water and relax for at least 15 minutes for maximum benefit. Pat the skin dry being careful not to rub excessively and apply a moisturizer.
3. OLIVE OIL/COCONUT OIL
Both of these oils are skin softening and can be used as effective treatments. For outbreaks on the scalp, gently massage some slightly warmed oil onto the scaly patches and repeat several times a day for best results. This will soften the dead skin which will then naturally fall away.
Also a powerful mix is to add 1 drop of oregano oil and 2 drops of calendula oil into a cup of either olive oil or coconut oil. Apply to the skin patches and leave it on for several hours if possible before rinsing away.
Unrefined organic coconut oil makes a very effective and non-irritant skin moisturizer.
Turmeric has been dubbed a “super-spice” and has a whole range of natural health benefits (ii). The main active pharmacological agent is curcumin which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It specifically targets an enzyme, known as phosphorylase kinase (Ph-K), which is responsible for the excessive skin cell growth thus proving very effective at treating psoriasis. Since Psoriasis is due to the patient’s inability to “switch off” Ph-K activity, treatment with curcumin gels have proved very effective (iii).
You can also make effective home remedies using turmeric. Make a paste by adding a small amount of water to turmeric powder. Apply to affected patches of skin and cover if possible with gauze. Leave this on overnight and gently rinse the next morning with warm water. This can be done daily until you notice improvements.
Turmeric is also an easy spice to add to many dishes, juices and smoothies.
Turmeric is available concentrated in pill or supplement form and is fairly easy to grow yourself in a container. Its benefits have recently been acknowledged by western medicine and even the FDA considers 1.5 to 3.0 grams of turmeric per day to be safe.
Please consult your medical professional if you suffer from blood clotting issues, gall bladder problems or take certain diabetes medications.
Oats are considered one of mother nature’s best skin soothers. It calms nerves, reduces itching and inflammation as well as softening affected areas.
Take an oat bath during flare-ups by adding a cup of finely powdered oatmeal into a bathtub of warm water. Relax in the water for at least 15 minutes. Rinse your skin with lukewarm water afterwards, carefully pat yourself dry and apply your chosen moisturizer.
6. ALOE VERA
These spiky, succulent desert plants have long been used as a remedy for burns, injuries and constipation. The gel from within the aloe vera leaves have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and can be very effective in treating skin conditions.
You can simply apply the gel directly from an aloe leaf to the skin and leave until fully absorbed. This can be done several times a day.
Another rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, garlic has been found to reduce the chronic inflammation of psoriasis. The powerful anti-microbial properties also prevent infection. Actually eating garlic regularly can have tremendous health benefits overall and can also prevent outbreaks of psoriasis as it helps purify the blood and can reduce the actions of the damaging free-radicals as a result of the immune system being compromised.
You can apply equal amounts of garlic oil with fresh aloe vera gel and apply onto the skin, leaving it for about 15 minutes before rinsing. Again this can be a daily treatment until the symptoms subside. If you do not like the taste or smell of garlic, you can opt for garlic supplements or take it with milk (If you don’t drink milk plenty of water and some fatty acids such as olive oil will serve the same purpose).
8. TEA TREE OIL
Tea tree oil is the essential oil of the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia plant. It has been shown to have excellent anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It can be applied directly to the skin although this may cause irritation. Another option is to use a product such as shampoo or lotion with tea tree oil in it, which you can either buy pre-made or make yourself by adding the oil to another product.
-Avoid scratching and picking at the lesions.
-Keep the skin moist and clean.
-Use humidifiers to add moisture to the air.
-Wear loose soft clothing made of natural fibers like cotton and linen.
-Avoid tightly fitted synthetic clothing.
-Stay away from dyes and perfumes that can irritate your skin.
-Eat a well-balanced diet, high in fruits and vegetables. Some people report that psoriasis symptoms improve when they eliminate dairy or gluten from their diets. Exercise may also help, and will improve your mood. In some cases, excess weight can worsen psoriasis symptoms, so maintaining a healthy weight may help prevent flare-ups.
-Get some sun, but not too much. Ultraviolet rays in sunlight slow the growth of skin cells, so getting moderate doses of sun is a good idea. About 1 square foot of exposure, other than the face for 10-15 minutes between 10am-2pm is optimal. If you must be exposed for a longer period please use a natural sunscreen. It’s easy to make your own non-toxic variety, click HERE for a free DIY recipe.
-Use relaxation techniques to minimize stress, as this can be one of the most common triggers for psoriasis.
Do consult your doctor for proper diagnosis.