The causes of psoriasis are not fully understood, but a build up of toxins is known to be strongly correlated with most cases, especially for plaque psoriasis which is the most common type.
Not only are psoriasis flare-ups aggravating, but they make people with the condition so self-conscious about their appearance that they're reluctant to go out in public without ample covering. Probably most frustrating of all is that there's no magic formula to cure the condition indefinitely.
You have to learn how to deal with flare-ups as they come, and take good care of yourself and your skin. There are very effective natural remedies, most found in your kitchen -- to help treat psoriasis discomfort, and simple everyday changes you can make to help prevent outbreaks.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a long history of being used to soothe minor burns and other skin inflammations, and it's also a disinfectant. As a liquid, it makes a great soak for affected fingernails and toenails. It is also effective when applied to plaques using cotton balls. To prepare an apple cider vinegar compress, add 1 cup apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon water. Soak a washcloth in the mixture and apply it to the skin to ease itching.
2. Plastic Wrap
Doctors have known for years that covering psoriasis lesions helps them go away. Kitchen plastic wrap works fine, but don't keep the wrap on so long that the skin becomes soggy, since it's more susceptible to secondary infection that way. Applying olive oil to the affected area and covering it up with plastic wrap works very well.
3. Olive Oil
Slightly warming a little raw olive oil and gently massaging it into affected areas does wonders for psoriasis, especially around the scalp and elbows. Mixing 2 teaspoons olive oil with a large glass of milk and adding the concoction to your bathwater is known to help.
4. Baking Soda
To take the itch out of your scaly patches. Mix 1.5 cups baking soda into 3 gallons water. Apply to your itchy patches with a washcloth soaked in the solution.
5. Epsom Salts
The sulfates in Epsom salt help flush toxins and heavy metals from skin cells. In the shower or bath, mix a handful of Epsom salt with a tablespoon of bath or olive oil and rub all over your wet skin to exfoliate and soften. Rinse thoroughly. They'll keep swelling down and bring healing to your psoriasis.
6. Cayenne Pepper
Capsaicin, the substance that gives cayenne pepper its heat, helps relieve pain and itching by blocking the communication system of sensory nerves. Creams containing capsaicin such as Sweet Relief Cream help relieve itching and remove psoriasis plaques. Look for a cream containing .025 to .075 percent capsaicin -- any more than that and you'll risk burning your skin. It takes about a week for the cream to work. It may cause an initial, brief burning sensation when applied to plaques, and it must be kept away from the eyes and mucous membranes because it can produce an intense burning sensation that is certainly irritating. But you may want to try a little capsaicin-containing cream on a small psoriasis lesion to see if it helps.
7. Aloe Vera
The gel from the aloe vera plant has long been known for its skin-soothing properties and for helping the skin heal from minor wounds and burns. Research in the 1990s appears to have extended the plant's repertoire of possible benefits to include clearing psoriasis plaques. If you want to try aloe, you can buy the plant itself, split open one of its leaves, and smear the gel onto the plaques. You can make your own moisturizing spray. For larger areas of plaque or a more portable balm, you can instead purchase a bottle of pure aloe vera gel at many health-food stores.
8. Fish Oil
ish oil may be helpful for psoriasis when taken orally. Research has suggested that taking daily oral fish oil supplements containing 1.8 to 3.6 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) may bring some improvement.
9. Vitamin D
People with psoriasis may be deficient in vitamin D. Indeed, dermatologists often treat psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patients with ultraviolet (UV) light, in part because it promotes vitamin D production. Sunlight is your best source but using vitamin D3 supplementation may be an alternative.
10. Milk Thistle
Taking extract of milk thistle (Silybum marianum), two capsules twice a day for at least three months heal most cases of psoriasis.
11. Evening Primrose Oil
Taking Evening Primrose Oil interferes with the production and storage of arachnidonic acid (a natural substance that aggravates the inflammatory response in psoriasis lesions).
As a natural source of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), take 500mg if evening primrose oil twice per day.
12. Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B complex is needed for healthy skin and only helps psoriasis sufferers. Use a high-stress, yeast-free formula. Take 50mg three times daily with meals.
Lifestyle and Dietary Modifications
Use a humidifier to keep the air in your home or office moist. It can prevent dry skin before it starts. Sensitive-skin moisturizers are also great at keeping your skin supple and from forming plaques.
Avoid soaps and perfumes which have dyes and fragrances in them. Sure, they can make you smell great but they also can inflame psoriasis.
Follow an anti-inflammatory diet, making sure to get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly those rich in carotenoids (mangoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and squash, as well as leafy greens and tomatoes).
Fiber is important in maintaining a healthy colon. The fiber binds to colon toxins, and aids in their elimination. In addition to foods rich in fiber such as raw fruits and vegetables and take psyllium seeds daily.
The National Psoriasis Foundation lists nuts, high quality chocolate, and cranberries as a few "functional foods" for treatment
April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.