Some essential oils may have anti-inflammatory properties, which could make them beneficial as a complementary therapy for psoriatic arthritis (PsA). However, further research is necessary.

PsA is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. There is no cure, but current treatment options can relieve symptoms and slow progression.

Treatment typically consists of anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. Some alternative or complementary treatments, such as certain essential oils, may help alleviate some of the symptoms of PsA.

However, many studies on their effectiveness are small, examine other types of arthritis, or use animal models.

This article looks at essential oils that might help with psoriatic arthritis and how to use essential oils. It also looks at other management options and when to contact a doctor.

Although research suggests essential oils may have some health benefits, it is important to remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor or regulate the purity or quality of these oils. A person should talk with a healthcare professional before using essential oils and research the quality of a particular brand’s products. It is also important to always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.

Ginger is a spice plant that contains compounds called gingerols. According to a 2020 article, research suggests gingerols may have potent anti-inflammatory effects, which could be beneficial in arthritis treatment.

A 2017 study found that people with knee osteoarthritis experienced significantly less pain when they regularly massaged their knees with ginger oil. However, this study does not look at the effects of ginger oil on PsA or other inflammatory arthritis types.

A 2016 animal study found that injections of ginger oil reduced joint inflammation in rats.

Although research suggests ginger oil may help to relieve pain and inflammation in some types of arthritis, more research is necessary to confirm the effects, specifically on PsA.

A 2016 study found that people who received regular massages using a mix of lavender, rosemary, Cananga, and juniper oils reported less pain and fatigue from arthritis.

However, the reduction of symptoms in the study could be due to the act of massage, not the type of oil. The Arthritis Foundation summarizes research that suggests massage is beneficial for people with different types of arthritis.

The topical use of lavender may also cause skin reactions in some people, which may be problematic for people who have psoriasis as well as PsA.

A 2020 animal study found that eucalyptol, the main component of eucalyptus, reduced pain, swelling, and inflammation in mice.

However, further research on humans is necessary to determine how effective eucalyptus may be on people, specifically with PsA.

A 2017 review of studies found that spearmint essential oil may be an effective pain reliever for people with osteoarthritis.

The review found that various animal and human studies suggested spearmint oil had analgesic effects. However, more large clinical studies are necessary to confirm the effects, and further studies are necessary to examine its effects on people with PsA.

A 2018 study suggests that a mixture of copaiba and other oils enhanced the positive effects of massage in the hands of people with arthritis.

People who received hand massages with the copaiba oil blend reported less pain and inflammation than people in the control group.

However, further large-scale research is necessary to determine the effectiveness of the essential oil, especially for people with PsA.

Curcumin is a naturally occurring compound that comes from the rhizome of turmeric. Turmeric CO2 extract contains curcumin, but the essential oil does not.

A 2020 study found that ointment containing curcumin helped to significantly reduce pain levels in people with knee osteoarthritis.

However, further research is necessary to determine whether curcumin could benefit people with PsA.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, people should always dilute essential oils before applying them. A person can add about 10–15 drops of essential oil to about 2 tablespoons of carrier oil, such as jojoba, almond, or avocado oil.

Undiluted essential oils can cause skin irritation and other skin problems.

A person can dab or massage diluted oil into the skin. They may also add a few drops into hot water or a diffuser to breathe in the scent or add some to bathwater. People should never ingest essential oils.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends using essential oils that are 100% pure and do not contain additives such as alcohol. Pregnant people should avoid using them in any capacity. Essential oils may also be unsafe for babies and children.

A person should immediately stop using essential oils if they worsen or trigger skin conditions, such as psoriasis.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the following methods may also help people to manage and treat symptoms of PsA:

A person should always consult a healthcare professional before starting any alternative treatments or therapies for PsA. Some essential oils may interact with medications and supplements or cause side effects such as skin rashes or headaches.

A person should not stop using prescription treatments in favor of essential oils or other alternative therapies unless a doctor permits it.

People should also speak with a healthcare professional if their PsA symptoms are worsening to discuss adjustments to their treatment plan to help them cope.

Some people use essential oils, such as ginger, eucalyptus, or lavender, as complementary treatments to alleviate symptoms of PsA and other types of arthritis.

However, further research is necessary to determine whether essential oils can benefit people with PsA. Current research uses animal models or focuses on other types of arthritis.

A person should consult a doctor before using essential oils for PsA and should not stop their current treatment in favor of alternative therapies. They should only include essential oils in their treatment strategy if a doctor confirms it is safe to do so.