Alternative treatments for psoriasis
If conventional or mainstream psoriasis treatments haven’t worked, some people turn to complementary or alternative remedies for their skin condition.
Always let doctors know what alternative approaches are being considered, as even some therapies described as 'natural' may interfere with prescription treatments.
Some herbal remedies can also make the skin more sensitive to sunlight.
Sunlight: Nature’s alternative treatment for psoriasis
The sun’s rays is one alternative treatment for psoriasis. Around 80% of people who get regular sunlight say their psoriasis improves. Getting out in the sun regularly and briefly may help.
Sunburn, on the other hand, can worsen psoriasis, as well as increase the risk of skin cancer. Wear sunscreen on unaffected skin, make sure your sunscreen is SPF15 or greater, and protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Be sure to protect your eyes from the sun, as well. Wear sunglasses, and make sure they block 100% of UVA and UVB rays.
Alternative topical treatments for psoriasis
Numerous topical treatments may offer relief as alternative treatments for psoriasis:
- Aloe vera is often used in an attempt to sooth skin and help clear psoriasis, although study results are mixed. For instance, a systematic review of ten studies of aloe vera, published in the British Journal of General Practice in 1999, concluded: "Even though there are some promising results, clinical effectiveness of oral or topical aloe vera is not sufficiently defined at present."
- Tea tree oil is used by some to treat psoriasis of the scalp, but this oil may not be suitable for everyone, so check with your GP first.
- Oat extracts are sometimes used to help ease itching and soothe skin and oat extracts are ingredients in many skin care products, but more research is needed to prove efficacy.
- Capsaicin cream is made from cayenne peppers. Some believe it can improve the appearance and symptoms of psoriasis lesions, but capsaicin also produces a hot, burning sensation on the skin. Several studies have been carried out on the efficacy of topical capsaicin, but research is inconclusive and more research is needed.
Diet and supplements for psoriasis
Some people claim certain foods trigger their psoriasis. Diets that claim to be alternative treatments for psoriasis are hard to prove, either for or against. Not much research has been done on how diet affects psoriasis.
Experts recommend maintaining scepticism about diets that claim to treat psoriasis. If you choose to experiment with diet as an alternative treatment for psoriasis, be sensible about it. Withdraw or add individual foods, but maintain a healthy diet overall.
Fish oil, evening primrose oil, milk thistle, vitamin D and oregano oil have all been variously reported to improve psoriasis. Controlled studies haven’t yet proven their benefits as alternative treatments for psoriasis. If they work for you, make sure your doctor knows you’re taking them.