Are there any alternative therapies for psoriasis?
There are some alternative therapies for psoriasis, but some of these treatments have been tested in very small numbers of people and their usefulness hasn't been proven. However, some alternative therapies can help relieve itching that can result from psoriasis. The disease itself is a chronic skin condition in which skin cells are produced and flake off more rapidly than normal, causing dry and red areas of skin that are covered with silvery scaling. These areas are called plaques. Psoriasis can affect people of all ages, but typically first appears in youth to middle age.
Psoriasis symptom relief
There are several non-drug therapies that may help the symptoms of psoriasis. A lubricated oatmeal bath product such as Aveeno® Bath Treatment can relieve itching. Bath oil or lotions that contain aloe vera or jojoba can be applied after bathing to help relieve dryness. Gently rubbing the skin with a soft washcloth after bathing can help remove thick, rough skin. Although exposure to sunlight during summer months may help to temporarily clear psoriasis, take care not to get sunburned, as this can cause flare-ups and other skin problems, including skin cancer. You should also to protect your skin from the sun if you are using a coal tar product for psoriasis, because it makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
Although people with psoriasis have used vitamin D, natural light therapy, fish oil capsules, and aloe gels, these treatments have been tested in very small numbers of people and their usefulness hasn't been proven.
Over-the-counter treatments for psoriasis
There are some over-the-counter treatments for psoriasis. A variety of over-the-counter medicines are available. Hydrocortisone (Cortizone-10®) ointments applied two to four times a day can help relieve dryness, redness, and itching. There is a chance that symptoms may return once you stop the medicine. Salicylic acid, coal tar, or light therapy can worsen a rash that is dry, red, and very itchy. Kerotolytic agents that contain urea such as AmLactin® 12% will loosen dead skin and help to get rid of plaques. These agents work best if you soak the area in warm water for 10 to 20 minutes before applying them.
Coal tar products, such as Zetar®, are also used to treat psoriasis. Although it's not clear how coal tar products work, many people benefit by applying products with concentrations of 0.5 to 5% daily until symptoms improve. It's important to know that coal tar is photosensitizing, which means it causes the skin to sunburn more easily than usual, even up to 24 hours after removing it. Coal tar products may stain hair, skin, clothing, and jewelry. If your condition does not improve in one to two weeks, you should see your doctor.