Massage therapy may be a safe and effective treatment option for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. However, individuals need to discuss any relevant potential triggers or skin irritants with the therapist first.

Massage therapy may help people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis because it can promote relaxation and enhance muscle and joint function.

People can seek a massage from a licensed, qualified therapist with experience working with skin conditions such as psoriasis.

This article examines how massage therapy may help people with psoriasis, whether it may trigger a flare-up, and how to prepare for a massage.

A person with psoriasis receiving a back massage.-1Share on Pinterest
Justin Pumfrey/Getty Images

According to a 2018 review, 31–88% of people with psoriasis report stress as one of their condition’s triggers.

The review’s authors suggest psoriasis may also occur more frequently in those who have experienced a stressful event in the last year.

Techniques to manage stress may help people with psoriasis. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapy is a stress-management technique that may help with psoriasis symptoms.

A 2020 study found that 10 minutes of massage therapy in 60 female participants caused a decrease in subjective stress levels and increased mental and physical relaxation levels.

Massage for psoriatic arthritis

Massage may also help people with psoriatic arthritis. This condition affects around 30% of those with psoriasis and may cause:

  • swollen and painful tendons
  • stiffness, particularly in the morning
  • reduced range of motion
  • swelling, tenderness, and stiffness in one or more joints

Massage for arthritis may help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation while improving joint function.

Some aspects of massage may cause a psoriasis flare-up in some people. Dyes, fragrant oils, detergents, or harsh chemicals may trigger or irritate psoriasis in some.

Massage therapists may let individuals bring their own products to avoid these triggers. They can also check if a massage therapist uses cotton sheets.

Additionally, heat may trigger psoriasis in some people. If so, they can ask the massage therapist to keep the room cooler and avoid using any heated therapy.

If people can experience a flare-up, they may need to check with their doctor or dermatologist before getting a massage.

A massage therapist may need to avoid inflamed areas, particularly if there is any broken skin. If the flare-up is so severe that a massage is painful, people may need to postpone their appointment until their skin is less inflamed.

Those with psoriatic arthritis also need to let their massage therapist know if they have any particularly inflamed or painful skin or joints. An experienced massage therapist can adjust the pressure in these areas.

A psoriasis flare will not necessarily prevent massage therapy. However, people may benefit from finding a massage therapist with experience working with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis.

Before getting a massage, the National Psoriasis Foundation recommends that people with psoriasis take the following steps:

  • inform the massage therapist about their psoriasis when booking the appointment
  • if a massage therapist is not familiar with psoriasis, look for one with more experience or knowledge of the condition
  • bring information materials from a doctor to explain psoriasis to a massage therapist if they are unfamiliar with the condition
  • ask which oils and lotions a therapist will use for the massage and check if any of the ingredients will irritate the skin
  • prepare other products to take if the massage therapist only has ones that may irritate psoriasis

People can also check with a healthcare professional that massage is a safe option for them.

Finding a massage therapist

Most states regulate massage therapists, which helps ensure practitioners have a license to work in the profession.

When searching for a massage therapist to help with psoriasis, individuals can look for the following credentials:

  • board certification, which indicates advanced knowledge
  • education and training with an accredited program or school
  • membership with a credible, professional massage therapy association

Massage therapy may be an effective part of treatment for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It can ease joint and muscle tension and may promote circulation and relaxation.

People can speak with their doctor to check if massage therapy suits their condition. They can also look for a licensed massage therapist with experience treating psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

If certain products, detergents, or temperatures irritate the skin, people can discuss this with their massage therapist beforehand. They may want to bring their own products to avoid potential irritants.