Witch hazel may help people manage some skin conditions, such as eczema, but there is currently no evidence to suggest it can treat or relieve psoriasis symptoms.

Witch hazel comes from the bark of the witch hazel tree. The Latin name for witch hazel is Hamamelis virginiana L.

Witch hazel is an astringent, a substance that causes tissue to shrink. According to a 2022 study, witch hazel is a traditional treatment for varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and certain skin conditions, including eczema.

This article examines whether witch hazel can help treat psoriasis, the potential risks of using witch hazel, alternative treatments, and when to contact a doctor.

Witch hazel flower and someone rubbing witch hazel into psoriasis on their arm. -2Share on Pinterest
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Anecdotal reports may suggest people can apply witch hazel topically to the skin on affected areas as a psoriasis treatment.

Some research suggests witch hazel may have potential benefits for some skin conditions. However, further research is necessary to determine whether it may be useful for people with psoriasis.

Witch hazel contains high levels of tannins, which may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antimicrobial, and antitumoral properties.

According to the same 2022 study mentioned above, tannins in witch hazel extracts may have beneficial effects on inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema. The study’s authors suggest it may also help with symptoms such as itching and impaired skin barrier.

Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, but there is currently no research to suggest witch hazel is a safe or effective treatment option specifically for psoriasis.

Antioxidant properties

According to a 2021 study, certain plant extracts contain properties that may support skin healing and help reduce symptoms of skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne, and eczema.

Hydrosols are a product of the plant hydrodistillation process. They have high antioxidant properties, which may be beneficial in treating skin diseases.

However, antioxidant levels vary between different plant species, as well as the farming and production methods.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) 2021 guidelines for topical and alternative psoriasis treatments do not mention witch hazel.

Like other over-the-counter (OTC) products, topical witch hazel products may contain other ingredients that could irritate the skin, such as fragrances, dyes, or some essential oils.

The AAD recommends people do a patch test first when trying a new skin care product. People can apply a small spot of the product to their arm twice a day for 7–10 days to see if there is any irritation.

If witch hazel dries or irritates the skin, people should wash it off and stop using it.

Natural ingredients may cause side effects, and there is a risk of allergic reaction. Some ingredients in skin care products may cause allergic contact dermatitis, which can make the skin itchy, red, and swollen.

People should always speak with their doctor or dermatologist before trying witch hazel on psoriasis.

The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) recommends the following OTC topical products and ingredients for psoriasis:

  • coal tar
  • salicylic acid
  • heavy, fragrance-free moisturizing creams and ointments
  • keratolytics, or scale lifters
  • oatmeal baths, or adding Epsom or Dead Sea salts
  • anti-itch treatments, such as calamine, hydrocortisone, or camphor
  • aloe vera

Nontopical treatments

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), light therapy with UVB light is the gold standard treatment for psoriasis in terms of safety and effectiveness.

Depending on the type and severity of psoriasis, doctors may also prescribe medications to manage symptoms, such as:

The NPF recommends speaking with a doctor or dermatologist before trying new skin care products or topical treatments for psoriasis.

A doctor will be able to ensure there are no interactions between topical products and other medications people may be using.

Alternative and complementary therapies may have side effects, so people should discuss the potential risks with a healthcare professional.

If witch hazel causes a skin reaction, people should see a doctor, particularly if they experience severe symptoms that do not improve with home remedies, such as a cool compress.

Witch hazel may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but no evidence currently recommends it as a safe or effective treatment for psoriasis.

In some cases, witch hazel products may contain ingredients that worsen psoriasis or cause another skin reaction.

People should talk with a healthcare professional before trying witch hazel as a psoriasis treatment. Other topical treatments that may help psoriasis include moisturizers, salicylic acid, tar products, and light therapy.