Psoriasis is a skin disease characterized by itchy and/or painful patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales -- a situation that can leave even those who don't regularly seek out alternative treatments eager to explore psoriasis natural treatment options in hopes of some relief.
In most cases, these patches appear on the elbows, knees, scalp, back, face, palms, and feet. Cells rise to the surface of the skin at an abnormally rapid rate, then stack up and form psoriasis patches. Psoriasis is a chronic disease, but patients may experience periods of remission that alternate with flare-ups lasting for several weeks or months.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Although red patches of skin with silvery scales are the hallmark of psoriasis, other symptoms may include:
About 30% of psoriasis patients also suffer from joint inflammation that produces symptoms of arthritis.
What Causes It?
Psoriasis results from an immune-system disorder that overactivates T cells (a type of white blood cell), triggering inflammation and the abnormally rapid turnover of skin cells.
Stress, infections, injury, cold weather, and the use of certain medications (including beta blockers and antimalarial drugs) may prompt psoriasis flare-ups. People with a family history of the disease are also more likely to develop psoriasis.
Treatment for Psoriasis
In some cases, psoriasis can be disfiguring and disabling. Therefore, it's important to see a doctor if you experience symptoms of psoriasis, and to follow-up with your doctor if your symptoms worsen and/or cause you pain.
Easing Symptoms of Psoriasis
These self-care strategies may help soothe psoriasis symptoms:
Natural Psoriasis Remedies
Preliminary research suggests that these natural remedies may help relieve psoriasis:
1) Aloe Vera
In a 2009 study of 80 psoriasis patients, researchers found that an aloe vera-based cream was more effective than triamcinolone acetonide (a corticosteroid) in reducing symptoms of psoriasis. However, a 2005 study of 41 psoriasis patients concluded that aloe vera gel was no more effective than a placebo in treatment of psoriasis.
Capsaicin (the chemical that gives hot chili peppers their kick) may help ease psoriasis symptoms when topically applied, according to a 1999 study. Thought to reduce psoriasis-associated itching, capsaicin cream may produce a burning sensation with the first few applications. Make sure to wash your hands immediately after applying the cream.
3) Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Following a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (inflammation-fighting healthy fats available in supplement form and found naturally in fish and flaxseed) may help improve psoriasis symptoms, according to research published in 2006. The study also shows that some psoriasis patients may benefit from a gluten-free diet.
Choonhakarn C, Busaracome P, Sripanidkulchai B, Sarakarn P. "A prospective, randomized clinical trial comparing topical aloe vera with 0.1% triamcinolone acetonide in mild to moderate plaque psoriasis." Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 2009 Aug 14.
Krogstad AL, Lönnroth P, Larson G, Wallin BG. "Capsaicin treatment induces histamine release and perfusion changes in psoriatic skin." British Journal of Dermatology 1999 141(1):87-93.
Paulsen E, Korsholm L, Brandrup F. "A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a commercial Aloe vera gel in the treatment of slight to moderate psoriasis vulgaris." Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 2005 19(3):326-31.
Wolters M. "The significance of diet and associated factors in psoriasis." Hautarzt. 2006 57(11):999-1004.