Dry, itchy skin? Redness, scaling and peeling? It could be psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin disorder characterized by itching, scaling and peeling of skin. While conventional psoriasis treatment involves medications and application of creams and ointments, psoriasis home remedies can also be used to help relieve the itchiness and scaling and provide some level of comfort to sufferers.
According to The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies II, while psoriasis is not contagious, very little is known about its causes. This lack of knowledge makes it difficult to treat psoriasis with complete certainty. Suspected triggers for psoriasis include heredity, stress, damage to the skin from injury, and reactions to certain medications.
Fortunately, the home remedies for mild cases of psoriasis tend to be simple and effective.
Using Moisturizers to Treat Psoriasis
One of the most important things that a psoriasis patient can do is to keep the skin well-moisturized. According to Nicholas J. Lowe, M.D (The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies II), moisturizers are effective in preventing build up of scales. Any rich moisturizer, including plain petroleum jelly, will do the job well. However, moisturizers that contain lactic acid seem to work better in providing relief.
According to Glennis McNeal of The National Psoriasis Foundation (The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies II), for best results, patients should apply moisturizers within three minutes after leaving the shower or bath. Moreover, McNeal recommends that psoriasis patients apply lotions and moisturizers liberally over all the body and not just on the scaly build up since even “ ‘clear’ skin in people with psoriasis is drier than in people who don’t have psoriasis” (p. 480).
Adding olive or vegetable oil to warm bath water will also prevent the water from further drying the skin and keeping it moisturized. WebMD experts also recommend putting cream on the psoriasis crusts and gently peeling the loose crusts off.
Stress Control as a Psoriasis Remedy
Stress is a known trigger for psoriasis and so keeping levels of stress under control could be used as to prevent recurrence of psoriasis. Meditation is a great way of controlling stress and so are any activities that provide pleasure and help to reduce tension and anxiety.
Diet Control and Alcohol Intake
If you suffer from psoriasis, you may benefit by cutting out alcohol. According to The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies II, doctors suspect that alcohol increases the activity of a certain type of white blood cell that is found in psoriasis patients but not in other people, which increases psoriasis symptoms.
While there have been no formal reports, doctors suggest a diet high in oily fish, such as tuna, mackerel and salmon may be helpful in reducing itching and scaling of psoriasis. Also, Dr. Kalin (The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies II) relates that some of his patients noticed a decrease in psoriasis scales by reducing or eliminating intake of pork products as well as caffeine. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, ” there is certainly no harm in exploring how diet impacts your psoriasis, as long as your overall health is not compromised.”
Several other natural remedies for psoriasis have been found to be helpful.
- According to Todd C. Jude (Herbal Home Remedies), aloe vera juice or aloe vera gel may be applied liberally to the scaly buildup to soothe and reduce itching. He also suggests rubbing oil of avocado sparingly on the affected areas.
- Soaking up the sun’s rays can increase production of vitamin D, which may be effective in controlling psoriasis.
- If you are a psoriasis sufferer, it could be a good idea to protect yourself from infection and injury. According to Kalin, “Infection may lead to an outbreak or worsen your condition, so it’s important to try to avoid infectious disease” (p.481).
- Using an electric razor to shave areas that have scaly build up rather than a plain razor will protect you from cutting and nicking yourself and, in turn, prevent new lesions.
Steps such as watching what you eat, keeping stress levels under control, and using plenty of moisturizers to soothe the scaling and itching may provide much-needed relief to sufferers of psoriasis. As with any illness, including psoriasis, it may be useful to consult with a health care professional as there may be more complicated causes than the more simple cures and remedies are aimed at handling.
Kirchheimer, Sid and the Editors of Prevention. The Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies II. NY: Bantam Books, 1995.
Jude, Todd C. Herbal Home Remedies. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers, 2002.