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Can Listerine Relieve Psoriasis Patches?

Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on April 29, 2020

While Listerine is sold today as a mouthwash, it’s been used for plenty of other things. People have tried it on everything from mouths to armpits to feet. Some people think the ingredients in Listerine specifically, not any antiseptic mouthwash, can help with psoriasis patches.

Listerine has been around since the late 1800s, and it wasn’t originally made or sold as a mouthwash. At first, it was used to prevent infection from surgery. It had other uses, too, like treating dandruff. Before long people realized it also could kill germs in the mouth, and it’s use for oral health is what stuck.

But does it help with the itchy and sore patches that come with psoriasis? There’s no evidence to support this.

What’s in It?

While the product is made mostly of water and alcohol, it’s active ingredients include four essential oils found in plants. These are:

  • Eucalyptol from eucalyptus
  • Menthol from mint
  • Methyl salicylate from wintergreen
  • Thymol from thymeI

What Does It Help With?

There’s evidence that some of the essential oils in Listerine can kill bacteria and other microbes. And they might also kill viruses. Some studies suggest eucalyptus oil and thymol can help heal wounds. So the mouthwash might help with certain skin conditions for these reasons.

There aren’t any studies showing it works for psoriasis. In fact, there are reasons to think that’s unlikely. For one thing, psoriasis happens when immune cells in the skin cause inflammation. But with psoriasis, the skin doesn’t usually have signs of bacteria or infection. So it doesn’t seem that a product made to kill germs would help.

The essential oils in Listerine might moisturize the skin somewhat. It’s possible that could offer some relief from dryness. But a good moisturizer would work better for that. And like any mouthwash, Listerine contains alcohol, which would dry skin out more in the long run. When you have psoriasis, it’s important to keep your skin moist.

Is It Worth a Try for Psoriasis?

Probably not. Listerine is safe when used in the way it’s intended. It might help with other skin conditions where bacteria or germs are involved. The cooling menthol and other ingredients in the mouthwash might feel good when you put it on or help with the itch temporarily. But it’s not likely to make psoriasis patches better and might make things worse over time.

What Can I Try Instead?

Home remedies and over-the-counter treatments that may help you feel better include:

If psoriasis symptoms are causing trouble or getting worse, ask your doctor for advice. They can help you find treatments that will work better than mouthwash.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

McGill University: “Listerine is a Mouthwash, Not An Antiviral Drug.”

National Museum of American History: “Listerine.”

Mayo Clinic: “Psoriasis.”

Melissa Piliang, MD, dermatologist and dermapathologist, Cleveland Clinic.

Dailymed.nlm.nih.gov: “Listerine Cool Mint Antiseptic.”

Veterinary Dermatology: “Antimicrobial activity of thyme oil, oregano oil, thymol and carvacrol against sensitive and resistant microbial isolates from dogs with otitis externa.”

Saudi Dental Journal: “The use of mouthwash containing essential oils (LISTERINE®) to improve oral health: A systematic review.”

Journal of Clinical Periodontology: “Efficacy of Listerine® Antiseptic in reducing viral contamination of saliva.”

Current Pharmaceutical Design: “Nanomedicines to Treat Skin Pathologies with Natural Molecules.”

American Academy of Dermatology: “What psoriasis treatments are available without a prescription?”

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