Ask a Doctor
I’ve had psoriasis for a year now, and I haven’t yet found a medication that’s really effective. I’ve been looking into alternative treatments for the condition. How do you get rid of psoriasis naturally?
Conventional therapy is one that has been tested with clinical trials or has other evidence of clinical effectiveness. The FDA has approved several drugs for the treatment of psoriasis. Some patients look to alternative therapy, diet changes, supplements, or stress-reducing techniques to help reduce symptoms. For the most part, alternative therapies have not been tested with clinical trials, and the FDA has not approved dietary supplements for treatment of psoriasis. There are no specific foods to eat or to avoid (except for alcohol) for patients with psoriasis. However, some other therapies can be found on the National Psoriasis Foundation web site. Individuals should check with their doctors before starting any therapy.
Some medications purchased online, both oral and topical, may actually contain pharmaceuticals that would normally require a prescription. This becomes a problem with unanticipated medication side effects and interactions. Caution should always be exercised in purchasing and using such products.
If one is taking a systemic retinoid such as acitretin or covering large areas with a topical retinoid (Tazorac) or a vitamin D analog (calcipotriene, calcitriol), he or she should be careful about taking "megadoses" of the same vitamins as a supplement. In rare cases, vitamin toxicity can occur.
A variety of herbal therapies have been reported in the lay press and on the Internet to help psoriasis. Some of these are oral and some topical, but none have been shown to have any predictable benefit at this time. Some, such as tea tree oil, coconut oil, and primrose oil, are known to cause contact dermatitis, which can transform a bothersome plaque into an oozing, blistering, intensely itchy one. There is no good evidence to support use of apple cider vinegar or household cleaning products either.
Here are some home remedies that have been proven to help the symptoms of psoriasis:
- Exposure to sunlight helps most people with psoriasis. This may explain why the face is so seldom involved.
- Keeping the skin soft and moist is helpful. Apply moisturizers after bathing.
- Do not use irritating cosmetics or soaps.
- Avoid scratching that can cause bleeding or excessive irritation.
- Soaking in bathwater with oil added and using moisturizers may help. Bath soaks with coal tar or other agents remove scales. Be careful in bathtubs with oil added to the bathwater since the tub can become very slippery.
- Hydrocortisone cream can slightly reduce the itching of mild psoriasis and is available without a prescription.
- Some people use an ultraviolet B (UV-B) light unit at home under a doctor's supervision. A dermatologist may prescribe the unit and instruct the patient on home use, especially if it is difficult for the patient to get to the doctor's office for light treatment.
For more information, read our full medical article on psoriasis.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Burden, A.D. "Management of psoriasis in childhood." Clin Exp Dermatol 24.5 Sept. 1999: 341-5.
Feely, M.A., B.L. Smith, and J.M. Weinberg. "Novel psoriasis therapies and patient outcomes, part 1: topical medications." Cutis 95.3 Mar. 2015: 164-8, 170.
Greb, Jacqueline E., et al. "Psoriasis." Nature Reviews: Disease Primers 2 Nov. 24, 2016: 1-17.
Jensen, J.D., M.R. Delcambre, G. Nguyen, and N. Sami. "Biologic therapy with or without topical treatment in psoriasis: What does the current evidence say?" Am J Clin Dermatol 15.5 Oct. 2014: 379-85.
Kim, Whan B., Dana Jerome, and Jensen Yeung. "Diagnosis and Management of Psoriasis." Canadian Family Physician 63 April 2017: 278-285.
Mansouri, B., M. Patel, and A. Menter. "Biological therapies for psoriasis." Expert Opin Biol Ther 13.13 Dec. 2013: 1715-30.
Maza, A, et al. "Oral cyclosporin in psoriasis: a systematic review on treatment modalities, risk of kidney toxicity and evidence for use in non-plaque psoriasis." J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 25 Suppl 2 May 2011: 19-27.
Michalek, I.M., B. Loring, and S.M. John. "A Systematic Review of Worldwide Epidemiology of Psoriasis." JEADV 2016: 1-8.
Paul, C., et al. "Evidence-based recommendations on conventional systemic treatments in psoriasis: systematic review and expert opinion of a panel of dermatologists." J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 25 Suppl 2 May 2011: 2-11.
Sbidian, E., et al. "Efficacy and safety of oral retinoids in different psoriasis subtypes: a systematic literature review." J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 25 Suppl 2 May 2011: 28-33.
van de Kerkhof, P.C. "An update on topical therapies for mild-moderate psoriasis." Dermatol Clin 33.1 Jan. 2015: 73-7.
Villaseñor-Park, Jennifer, David Wheeler, and Lisa Grandinetti. "Psoriasis: Evolving Treatment for a Complex Disease." Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine 79.6 June 2012: 413-423.