Psoriasis is a skin condition and autoimmune disease, which typically manifests through the appearance of red or pink scaly patches on the skin. Most commonly, this will affect the elbows, forearms, back, knees and scalp, although it can also present in many other locations of the body. The patches will often be itchy and sometimes painful too.
There are five main types of psoriasis, but plaque psoriasis accounts for around 90 percent of all cases. With plaque psoriasis, the patches on the skin often have a white or silver centre and this will typically have a scaly texture.
People with psoriasis experience it in different ways and although the severity of the condition and the location of the patches can vary significantly, most sufferers seek treatment methods that can minimise its symptoms and keep the condition under control, with these treatments ranging from medication to natural remedies.
Psoriasis causes and treatments
Psoriasis occurs when the epidermal layer of the skin grows too rapidly. Essentially, this results in skin cells being replaced too frequently and cells then build up, resulting in dry skin patches, which flake. The precise reason why this occurs is not yet known, but it is thought to be linked to a problem with the body's immune system.
The underlying causes of psoriasis are also not fully understood, but it is generally accepted that there is a strong genetic component. Meanwhile, lifestyle factors can also contribute to the condition developing or worsening, with examples including stress, changes in climate and excessive alcohol consumption.
Although there is no known cure for the condition, there are a number of treatment options available. The purpose behind treatment is to control the condition, limit the severity of its symptoms, reduce inflammation, itchiness and soreness, and correct immune response.
Treatment can also greatly improve self esteem and mood. Topical treatments are generally utilised for mild forms of the disease, while light therapy may be used if the condition does not respond. In the most severe cases, oral or injectable treatments may be used. In all cases, treatment can also be supported with some natural remedies, which can help to improve psoriasis symptoms.
Coconut oil and psoriasis
When it comes to natural remedies that can help to manage psoriasis symptoms, coconut oil is one of the best known and most readily available. As the name suggests, coconut oil is an oil extracted from the fruit of a coconut. It is edible, although has high saturated fat content, but can also be applied topically to the skin.
Utilised in this way, coconut oil serves to hold in moisture, stop the growth of some bacteria and reduce redness and swelling of the skin. It is, therefore, an effective natural remedy for dry skin, scaling and itching, all of which are associated with psoriasis as a condition. Moreover, it can be used to help loosen psoriasis scales.
In addition, coconut oil is often used in personal grooming, especially on the hair and nails. For those with scalp psoriasis, it is an easy transition to use the product as a natural treatment. Indeed, the coconut oil can help to remove some of the flakes and restore moisture to the scalp, while simultaneously improving the hair.
With that said, while coconut oil is a useful natural remedy for psoriasis symptoms and can have a role to play in treating or managing the condition, it should be used in conjunction with other topical treatments and home remedies, rather than as a single solution. Coconut oil should not be used in place of prescribed treatments.
Other natural remedies for psoriasis
While coconut oil is one of the best known and most effective natural remedies for psoriasis sufferers, there are a number of other options which are worthy of consideration as well. The first of these is light exposure, although time spent in the sun should be managed carefully to avoid damage caused by UV rays.
Olive oil for psoriasis
Olive oil, applied topically, can help to increase skin moisture, reduce inflammation and soften dead skin, making it easier to remove. Similarly, apple cider vinegar and aloe vera both have a useful role in treating psoriasis, helping to soothe the skin and reduce itching. Apple cider vinegar should be diluted and should not be left on the skin for too long, due to its acidity, which can lead to side effects like irritation and the formation of more dry skin.
Salts for psoriasis
Both epsom salts and dead sea salts can be added to bathwater in order to create salt water soaks. Although the primary use of salts in this context is to provide relief from some of the more problematic symptoms, such as itching, soreness, irritation and inflammation, they can also help to simplify scale removal.
Finally, research has suggested that diet can also have a role to play in treating psoriasis. In particular, multiple studies have highlighted potential benefits from taking fish oil supplements that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, limited research has established a link between coeliac disease, itchy skin and psoriasis and some studies have suggested that the severity of symptoms can be reduced by limiting gluten intake.