Psoriasis is a chronic condition that manifests in scaly, itchy patches on the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body. Doctors don’t know its exact cause, but they believe an overactive immune system may be the trigger.
There’s no cure for psoriasis, but you can manage symptoms with a combination of doctor-prescribed medicine and home remedies. Here are some ways to treat psoriasis.
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How Doctors Treat Psoriasis
Your dermatologist will create a treatment plan for your psoriasis, based on your individual needs. There are different types of psoriasis. Depending on how severe your psoriasis is, treatment may include:
- Prescription medication you apply to your skin.
- Phototherapy (light) treatments.
- Oral (by mouth) or injected (by vein) medications. These treatments are usually reserved for more severe cases of psoriasis.
How to Treat Psoriasis at Home
There are also many over-the-counter (OTC) and at-home options to ease your symptoms. But you should keep seeing your dermatologist on a regular basis even if at-home therapies are helping. They can continue to help you manage flare-ups.
Some of the most popular at-home treatments are:
- Coal tar. There are both prescription and over-the-counter versions of this treatment, which doctors have recommended for more than 100 years. Coal tar massaged into the skin helps reduce itching and inflammation.
- Apple cider vinegar. Some people find relief from flare-ups by applying a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. You can use it in a warm bath or as a compress on a washcloth against your skin.
- Aloe vera. The gel from the leaves of the aloe vera plant have a soothing effect. Applying the gel to your skin may help calm your psoriasis symptoms.
- Hydrocortisone creams. You can buy mild corticosteroids without a prescription, in cream or ointment form. If you need a stronger corticosteroid, your doctor can prescribe one. Hydrocortisone helps reduce itching and decrease inflammation.
- Moisturizer. You should apply moisturizer after a shower or bath to seal water in the skin. Keeping your skin moisturized helps ease dryness and itching. Look for a fragrance-free heavy cream or ointment as opposed to a thinner lotion.
- Scale softeners. These OTC products contain salicylic acid, urea, or lactic acid. They soften and remove psoriasis scales and reduce swelling.
- Anti-itch products. Products that contain calamine, menthol, or camphor can help relieve the itching of psoriasis.
- Oatmeal baths. An oatmeal bath can be soothing for many conditions, including psoriasis. Use ground oatmeal so you don’t clog your drain.
- Tea tree oil. Add a few drops of tree tea oil to your bath, body wash, or shampoo (if psoriasis is on your scalp). You an also buy products with added tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is antibacterial and antifungal, and soothes irritated skin.
- Epsom salt. Add Epsom salts to a warm bath for a soothing effect on itchy skin. The magnesium and sulfate in the Epsom salts can reduce irritation.
Psoriasis Treatment Diet
Another way to treat psoriasis flare-ups is through nutrition and lifestyle.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, losing weight can help ease symptoms of psoriasis. Being overweight can increase inflammation in your body, which can lead to outbreaks.
Even if you’re not overweight, eating healthful food can help calm psoriasis flare-ups. Some diets and specific foods may help reduce or prevent inflammation. Of course, talk to your doctor before starting any new eating plan.
Here are a few diets that may help with psoriasis flare-ups.
- Gluten-free diet. Some doctors believe that psoriasis may share a connection with celiac disease. Your doctor can test you for celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities. Following a gluten-free diet may reduce psoriasis flare-ups.
- Mediterranean diet. This diet includes extra-virgin olive oil, fish, beans, nuts, fruit, and vegetables. All those foods are rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients. Because psoriasis goes hand-in-hand with inflammation, a Mediterranean diet may help with psoriasis.
- Heart healthy diet. This diet also reduces inflammation. Lean meats, poultry without skin, and fish such as salmon, trout, and herring are hallmarks of the heart healthy diet. So is focusing on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables — and limiting sodium, alcohol, and processed foods.
If these home remedies don’t help your psoriasis flare-ups, talk to your dermatologist. Together you can come up with a plan to manage your psoriasis symptoms.
National Psoriasis Foundation, Dietary Modifications, Link
National Psoriasis Foundation, Over-the-Counter Topicals, Link
NHS, Psoriasis Treatment, Link
American Academy of Dermatology, What Psoriasis Treatments Are Available Without a Prescription? Link
American Academy of Dermatology, Psoriasis: Diagnosis and Treatment, Link
American Academy of Dermatology, What Should I Eat if I Have Psoriasis? Link
Psoriasis Speaks, Home Remedies for Psoriasis, Link
The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is a comprehensive dermatologic laser facility, offering a full range of cosmetic services and procedures. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Find a dermatology provider near you.