If you live with plaque psoriasis, then you know it can be quite painful. As your psoriatic skin flakes off, it exposes premature raw flesh underneath that just doesn't seem ready yet for fresh air. Certain areas are worse than others, and something you otherwise wouldn't think twice about - like putting your elbows on the table (sorry, Mom!) - suddenly sends a painful reminder that your poor skin is suffering.
As someone who also has dealt with the pain of living with psoriasis, I've discovered a few simple, natural ways to topically manage these unsightly spots. While none of these suggestions will cure your psoriasis - as psoriasis is just a symptom of a larger problem anyways, and treating just your skin alone won't cure it - they will hopefully ease some of your discomfort.
When possible, I've included research to support my suggestions. However, some of the below items have not been researched for psoriasis, and instead are just my personal experience of what I have found helpful. As a result, please use this information with caution and try these techniques on a small area of skin first to see how your body reacts. Discuss with your doctor or dermatologist if you have any concerns, questions, or issues.
1) Extra Virgin Coconut Oil - or - Ostrich Oil
Coconut oil can be so wonderfully soothing to psoriasis. Apply any time you desire - after bathing, before bed, when you wake up, when your psoriasis seems calm or is red and inflamed. I find it best to apply when my psoriasis seems extra dry and needs moisturizing, particularly after bathing.
If you live in or are able to visit New York City, you have access to ostrich oil from the farmers market via Roaming Acres. For me, this oil is even more soothing than coconut oil. It seems to keep the area moisturized for longer than coconut oil.
2) Bathe With a Washcloth
A washcloth is a great way to gently remove those flaky plaques without too much pain. Towards the end of your shower or bath, when the warm water has had a chance to soften your skin, gently rub your psoriasis patches with the washcloth.
3) Tea Tree Oil
'I prefer to apply tea tree oil when my psoriasis is actively red and inflamed, but not when it's just been freshly scrubbed after bathing. It will sting if that raw premature red skin is exposed - so don't say I didn't warn you - but it is quite soothing a few minutes later.
Some folks are sensitive to tea tree oil as it definitely is strong, so proceed with caution especially if your non-psoriatic skin is already sensitive. You might start with diluting a drop or two of tea tree into some coconut oil, or purchase a diluted version.
3) Epsom Salt Bath - or - Hot Springs Mineral Water Soak
Epsom salt baths are a great way to help soften and remove your psoriatic skin. This can be used in conjunction with a washcloth to gently take off or down some skin flakes without exposing premature skin. The salts may make your psoriasis sting at first.
If you have access to natural hot springs, soaking in the mineral water is can be another effective way to help soften and remove any flaking skin.
5) Pumice Stone
This is yet another strategy for removing skin plaques while bathing. This is probably the roughest way to do it, but is totally effective. Again, wait until the end of your shower or bath when the warm water has softened your skin, then be sure to rub gently, gently, gently as to not take off more than just your psoriatic skin. I tend to use the pumice stone on bony areas like my elbows, ankles, and feet after I've determined that using a washcloth is not enough to get the job done.
I hope these simple techniques can lend you some relief from your psoriasis!
Disclaimer: The content in this post and on this website are intended for general information only. It is not to be substituted for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
eat yer veggies
Caylee Clay is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist & yoga teacher specializing in psoriasis & food sustainability. By following her own health path with a goal of naturally putting her psoriasis into remission, she is a top resource for other psoriasis sufferers. Also, she believes that healthy living & sustainability go hand-in-hand — every bite you take has the power to improve both the world and your health!