Medical News Today: Can aloe vera treat psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a long-term condition that causes excess skin cells to form inflamed, red, and scaly patches on the skin. Can aloe vera help manage the symptoms of this condition?

Psoriasis is caused by a problem with the immune system and does not currently have a cure. Also, up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.

This article explores the potential benefits of aloe vera as a treatment for psoriasis and considers the scientific evidence available to support its use.

Does aloe vera help psoriasis?

Cut aloe vera for psoriasis
Aloe vera gel applied to psoriatic skin may reduce inflammation.

Psoriasis causes painful and uncomfortable patches of inflamed skin. Sometimes these patches can crack and bleed.

If psoriasis starts to affect people’s joints, it is called psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis can cause a person’s joints to become swollen, stiff, and painful.

Aloe vera is a type of succulent with gel-filled leaves. Applying pure aloe vera gel to psoriatic skin patches may have a soothing effect, reduce inflammation, and improve hydration. It may also be beneficial for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis.

Some studies suggest aloe vera gel can help manage specific symptoms associated with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. However, there is not much evidence to support aloe vera gel as a stand-alone treatment, so a person with psoriasis should talk to their doctor about medicated creams and other remedies.

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Benefits of aloe vera for psoriasis

A 2012 study found aloe vera gel to be over 81 percent effective in the treatment of psoriasis. However, this study used an animal model, so more research is needed to see if aloe vera gel has an equally beneficial effect on psoriasis in humans.

While the effects of aloe vera are unproven for psoriasis specifically, the following studies show it may be beneficial for certain symptoms:

Helps heal wounds

A 2015 review noted that aloe vera’s healing property is related to a compound called glucomannan, which affects skin cell growth and accelerates wound healing.

As a result, the wound healing properties of aloe vera gel may be beneficial if a person with psoriasis has skin patches that crack or bleed.

Helps the skin to make collagen

Aloe vera gel may lead to the skin making more collagen. As well as contributing to the healing process, collagen helps to keep the skin elastic and firm.

The glucomannan contained in aloe vera encourages collagen production and collagen improves skin elasticity, so increased collagen production may help to reduce the scaly patches caused by psoriasis.

Reduces inflammation

Aloe vera gel may be able to reduce inflammation, which is a symptom of both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

A 2008 study found aloe vera gel to be more effective than a placebo to treat skin conditions, such as UV-induced erythema. The study did not, however, look specifically at aloe vera’s role in treating psoriasis.

More research is needed to say with certainty that the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera are beneficial for treating psoriasis.

Improves hydration

Aloe vera gel may help to improve skin hydration, although not when used on a regular basis.

A 2014 study found that aloe vera gel improved skin hydration after one application. However, after multiple uses, it decreased skin hydration.

Improved skin hydration may help a person with psoriasis prevent the patches on their skin from cracking. One-off applications of aloe vera gel could be useful in this way, but it may not be beneficial if used repeatedly.

More research is needed to see if aloe vera is a good moisturizer for people with psoriasis.

How to use aloe vera

Aloe vera gel is available over the counter at most pharmacies and health food stores.

People can also use aloe vera gel directly from the plant by snapping off a leaf and gently squeezing out the gel.

Aloe vera gel can be applied liberally to the affected areas of the skin up to three times a day.

Aloe vera is also available in tablet form. However, the National Psoriasis Foundation say aloe vera tablets are not beneficial for the condition.

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Risks and considerations

Aloe vera liquid being added to the skin
Some people may experience an allergic reaction to aloe vera, so a skin test is recommended.

Applying aloe vera gel to the skin is safe for most people, but some individuals may be allergic.

It is best to apply the gel to a small patch of skin to test for an allergy before using it more liberally. If there is no adverse reaction after 24 hours, it should be safe to apply aloe vera gel freely to the skin.

Also, some medications may interact with aloe vera gel. A person who is taking medications may wish to discuss aloe vera gel with their doctor before they start using it.

Other treatments for psoriasis

Aloe vera gel is a complementary treatment that may help manage psoriasis symptoms when used alongside other treatments.

Treatments that the doctor may recommend for psoriasis include:

  • salicylic acid
  • steroid-based creams
  • calcipotriene-containing ointments
  • coal tar ointments

Other home remedies for psoriasis that some people find beneficial include:

  • apple cider vinegar
  • dead sea salts
  • capsicum
  • tea tree oil

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Some studies suggest that aloe vera gel may improve specific symptoms associated with psoriasis, due to its healing properties.

More research is needed to prove whether aloe vera gel is an effective treatment for the skin condition, as a whole. In the meantime, aloe vera is generally safe to use as a moisturizer and on skin affected by psoriasis.

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