Witch Hazel for Psoriasis? Benefits, Risks, Effectiveness

Medically Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on April 15, 2022
2 min read

A number of common household products are touted as home remedies for psoriasis, and one of them witch hazel. But can it actually do anything to help psoriasis? The short answer is maybe a little.

What you typically see in the store is a clear liquid, it’s a distilled form (hamamelis distillate), but witch hazel itself is a plant. It’s a small tree or shrub with yellow flowers that grows all over North America. The bark and leaves of this plant have ingredients known for antioxidant and astringent properties. Native Americans have used the plant to treat ulcers, sores, and other ailments. Early American colonists used it to treat insect bites, hemorrhoids, and acne.

You can find witch hazel at any drugstore or grocery store. It’s found in liquid form and sometimes also in wipes. Companies that sell it say it can soothe chronic skin conditions. Some people use it for psoriasis.

There’s no cure for psoriasis. Can it help with the itchy, sore plaques?

There’s some scientific research that witch hazel protects skin and can help get rid of inflammation and redness. But the skin that the researchers tested was red from ultraviolet light, not psoriasis.

There’s no good evidence to tell us how well witch hazel works for symptoms of psoriasis. It might feel good and it might offer some short-term relief. But it probably won’t work as well as other things such as over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or ointment.

Generally speaking, witch hazel is safe on skin. It comes with no real side effects. So if it seems to help, it’s probably OK to use.

But if you do use it, keep an eye out for signs it’s drying your skin. If it is, stop using it. If you have psoriasis, you want to keep your skin moist.

Other things you might try to help with discomfort or itching from psoriasis include moisturizers, ice packs, and oatmeal baths.

If your skin is causing you a lot of discomfort or is getting worse, check with your doctor. They may suggest other over-the-counter or prescription medicines to help you feel better. They may also recommend you try light therapy.