Can aloe vera treat psoriasis?
Psoriasis results from a problem with the immune system, and it can cause excess skin cells to form inflamed, scaly plaques on the skin.
There is currently no cure, but a variety of treatment options can help relieve symptoms. Some people believe that aloe vera can alleviate both skin- and joint-related issues that arise from psoriasis.
This article looks at how aloe vera could help relieve some psoriasis symptoms and what the research has to say.
Does aloe vera help psoriasis?
Aloe vera gel may reduce inflammation in psoriasis.
A person with psoriasis may develop painful and uncomfortable patches of inflamed skin. Sometimes these patches can crack and bleed. A person with psoriatic arthritis will have swollen, stiff, and painful joints.
The symptoms of psoriasis tend to come and go, worsening during flares and improving during times of remission.
Aloe vera is a type of succulent plant with gel-filled leaves. It plays a role in traditional medicines of many cultures; people have used aloe vera gel for thousands of years to treat a range of skin conditions, including psoriasis.
These elements may allow aloe vera to:
- soothe the skin
- reduce inflammation
- help keep the skin from drying out
In 2018, researchers noted that people with mild to moderate psoriasis who applied a combination of 50% propolis and 3% aloe vera for 12 weeks saw an improvement in symptoms. However, this study did not look at the effect of aloe vera alone.
Benefits of aloe vera for psoriasis
A 2011 study in animals found that aloe vera gel was effective in treating psoriasis. However, determining the effects in humans will require more research.
There is no evidence that aloe vera can treat psoriasis specifically, though some studies suggest that it may relieve certain symptoms.
Helps heal wounds
Authors of a 2015 review attributed aloe vera's healing properties to a compound called glucomannan, which affects skin cell growth and accelerates wound healing.
These properties may be beneficial if a person with psoriasis has plaques that crack or bleed.
Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, and aloe vera appears to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Aloe vera gel may theoretically help reduce the inflammation that leads to skin and joint symptoms in psoriasis.
A 2008 study found that aloe vera gel was more effective than a placebo in treating skin conditions, such as ultraviolet light-induced erythema. The study did not, however, look into treating psoriasis.
Confirming that the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera are beneficial for treating psoriasis will require more research.
Aloe vera gel may help improve skin hydration initially, but the effect may not last if a person uses it regularly.
A 2014 study found that aloe vera gel improved skin hydration after one application, although the improvement was not statistically significant when compared with the effect of the placebo, which was water.
In addition, the researchers found that after multiple uses, the gel actually decreased skin hydration.
Moisturizing the skin can prevent it from cracking, so using aloe vera from time to time may help. However, other options, such as plain Vaseline, could be more effective.
Determining whether aloe vera is a suitable moisturizer for people with psoriasis will require more research.
How to use aloe vera
Aloe vera gel is available over the counter at most pharmacies and health food stores.
The National Psoriasis Foundation recommend using a cream that contains 0.5% aloe.
A person can also use natural aloe vera gel directly from the plant by snapping off a leaf and gently squeezing out the gel.
First, apply the gel or cream to a small area of skin to check for any unwanted reactions. If no reaction occurs after 24 hours, a person can apply the gel or cream liberally to the affected skin up to three times a day.
Aloe vera is also available as tablets, but the National Psoriasis Foundation say that these do not improve symptoms of psoriasis and that they can, in fact, can be dangerous.
What other home remedies can help with psoriasis? Find out more.
Risks and considerations
A person should do a patch test first, in case they have an allergic reaction.
Applying aloe vera gel to the skin is safe for most people, but some may have an allergic reaction. This is why it is best to first do a test on a small area of skin.
Other topical treatments for psoriasis
Aloe vera gel is a complementary remedy that may help manage psoriasis symptoms when a person uses it alongside other treatments.
Other topical treatments may contain:
- salicylic acid
- coal tar
- These may be available over the counter and by prescription.
A review published in 2018 concluded that the following may help treat psoriasis:
Most people with mild symptoms can manage the condition at home, but medical treatment may be necessary.
Anyone who experiences severe, persistent, or worsening psoriasis symptoms should consult a doctor.
Some studies suggest that aloe vera gel may improve specific symptoms that arise from psoriasis, due to the gel's various beneficial properties.
Determining whether aloe vera gel is an effective treatment for the overall condition will require further research.
In the meantime, aloe vera is generally safe to use as a moisturizer and on skin affected by psoriasis.
What type of aloe vera should I try for moderate plaque psoriasis?
As the National Psoriasis Foundation suggests, look for a cream that contains 0.5% aloe. There is no specific aloe topical that I would recommend.
It is important to discuss treatment options with your dermatologist, as it is unlikely that topical aloe alone will control psoriasis.Owen Kramer, MD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.