Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that leaves patches of dry, thick, scaly skin on the body. Medical experts believe it's caused by an overactive immune system telling skin cells to replicate faster.
Skin cells grow every few weeks to replace the old ones. The body naturally sloughs off old cells. If you have psoriasis, new skin cells form every few days, faster than the body can shed them. This creates an excess amount that piles up on the skin's surface, creating thick, white, scaly patches.
Symptoms vary based on the type of psoriasis you have, where it appears on the body, and how much you have at one time. They include:
- Red patches of skin that are silvery, similar to scales
- Dry, cracked skin that burns and may itch or bleed
- Nails that are pitted, ridged, and thick
- Joint pain or swelling
Common spots include the lower back, elbows, palms, knees, soles of the feet, face, and scalp.
Remedies and Treatments for Psoriasis
If you have psoriasis, you may have noticed certain changes, like stress and cold temperatures worsening your skin. Managing these triggers can help keep your symptoms under control.
Alternative and at-home remedies for psoriasis include:
Acupuncture: An ancient form of Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on your body to reduce pain.
Aloe vera: Often used to treat minor scrapes and burns, aloe vera is anti-inflammatory and can reduce redness. Use an unscented cream or gel containing 0.5% aloe.
Apple cider vinegar: Apply a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water to your scalp a couple of times a week to relieve itching. Rinse it off afterward so it doesn't irritate your skin. Avoid this method if your scalp area is cracked or bleeding, as it may create a burning sensation.
Capsaicin: This compound makes chili peppers spicy. There's evidence using a cream with capsaicin can reduce redness, pain, and inflammation.
Heliotherapy: Step outside and enjoy the sun. Ultraviolet B rays (UVB) may help reduce symptoms. Limit your exposure to five or 10 minutes a day and wear sunscreen to protect skin without psoriasis.
Oat bath: Grind up some oats and add them to lukewarm (not hot) bathwater for a skin-soothing soak.
Oregon grape: This herb, also known as mahonia aquifolium, is a powerful antimicrobial that supports the immune system. A cream containing 10% Oregon grape extract can help treat mild to moderate cases of psoriasis.
Salt bath: There's another way to soak off scales. Pour Dead Sea or Epsom salts into your tub and relax for 15 to 20 minutes. Apply a moisturizer afterward.
Turmeric: This herb reduces overall inflammation in the body, which means fewer flare-ups. Take it as a supplement or enjoy it in your favorite curry dish.
When to See a Doctor
If you suspect you have psoriasis or have already been diagnosed, visit your doctor if your symptoms:
- Spread or become more severe
- Are painful or cause more discomfort than normal
- Cause pain and swelling in the joints and prevent you from performing daily activities