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Alternative Ways to Treat Psoriasis

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on July 10, 2021

When you have psoriasis, you have many options for treating it.  Along with medications, you have some simple alternatives you can try to help fight flares and ease your symptoms.

Sunlight

Scientists aren't sure how it helps, but many people say their symptoms get better when they get a little sun on a regular basis.

Just don't overdo it. Sunburns can make patches worse. Ask your doctor how much time you should spend catching rays. And when you go out, put sunscreen on areas that don't have psoriasis. Make sure the screen is SPF 30 or higher and protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Ones with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are less likely to bother your skin.

Alternative Skin Treatments

There are many things you can put on your skin to relieve itching, burning, and redness:

  • Aloe vera: It soothes skin and may improve psoriasis, although scientists haven't studied it enough to know for sure. Look for creams or gels that have 0.5% aloe. Steer clear of the tablet form. It can be dangerous.
  • Tea tree oil: It’s sometimes added to shampoos and may help scalp psoriasis.
  • Oat extracts: These can be found in many skin care products. They may ease itching and cut redness. Soaking in an oatmeal bath may also help.
  • Dead Sea salts or Epsom salts: These can remove scales and relieve itching. Add them to a warm bath and soak for about 15 minutes. Use a lotion or cream to return moisture to your skin afterward.

Diet and Supplements

Some people say certain foods trigger their psoriasis. Scientists don't have much evidence, though, to show how eating habits affect this skin condition.

  • Keep a food journal. If you want to see the effect some foods have on your psoriasis, make small changes in your diet. Then keep track of what happens. The best approach is to eat a wide range of healthy foods that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
  • Try supplements. Some people have found that supplements, including fish oil, vitamin D, and oregano oil, can help. There's not much evidence, however, that these work. And the FDA doesn't regulate supplements as closely as they do medications. So check with your doctor before you give them a try. They can let you know if they're safe and explain how they might affect the other drugs you take.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese practice of inserting thin needles through the skin to stimulate specific points on the body. (Needles are often, but not always, used for acupuncture). 

Some people with psoriasis find that acupuncture helps to relieve some of their symptoms. But studies on acupuncture for psoriasis have not found strong evidence to suggest that it works. Scientists continue to study the issue.

If you decide to try acupuncture, be sure to check the credentials of your acupuncturist. Most states require some sort of license or certification. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure of where to go.

Ease Your Stress

Stress can trigger a new outbreak and make an existing one worse. These techniques won't replace your medicines, but they might make them work better:

  • Meditation. This focuses your attention to quiet your mind. A few studies suggest it can help with psoriasis when practiced along with traditional treatments.
  • Yoga. People have used yoga to improve their health and relieve stress for thousands of years. If it helps you relax, it's worth a shot.
  • Massage. Be sure to let your massage therapist know ahead of time about your psoriasis. Or find one who’s worked with people who have it

 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Canadian Dermatology Association: “Psoriasis.”

National Psoriasis Foundation: "Alternative Approaches to Psoriasis Treatment."

FDA.

USCF School of Medicine: "Sunblock."

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Acupuncture: In Depth.”

Medicine: “The effects of acupuncture for patients with psoriasis.”

Karger Forsch Komplementmed:  “Acupuncture Therapies for Psoriasis Vulgaris: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials."

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