Can aloe help with psoriasis symptoms?

Natural products and therapies

Synopsis

Yes, as a gel or cream, aloe can be an efficient moisturizing agent and as such, it can help with psoriasis symptoms by reducing redness, flaking and itching commonly associated with plaques. As for oral consumption of aloe, it is best to exercise caution and talk to a health care professional beforehand.

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Expert Answers

Dr. Ron Vender:

Aloe Vera is a well-known plant used by many people for various skin ailments. The plant leaves contain about 99% water. The other 1% consists of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, fatty acids, salicylic acid, sugars and anthraquinones. It is often used successfully as a topical gel for the stubborn scaly plaques of psoriasis as an alternative to topical steroid treatments. However, there are no published head-to-head trials. It is also available in shampoos, soaps and creams. It can soothe skin irritation as well as improve itch. Due to its high water-content, it can hydrate the skin. The small salicylic content can act as a natural exfoliant as well. Occasionally, aloe juice is ingested for minor beneficial effects of the skin. Please be aware of potential side effects such as diarrhea and sun sensitivity. 

Please remember that this is not a cure for psoriasis but can be a helpful adjunctive therapy with your regularly prescribed treatment. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and patients with kidney disorders need to check with their doctor before using any natural product.

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Carolyn Whiskin:

The gel from within the aloe plant has been applied to the skin for generations. It is most commonly known for providing relief from sunburn. Although there is limited research, some people have noticed benefit when applying aloe to areas of plaque. Aloe Vera not only hydrates and moisturizes skin: it also increases skin cell growth, reduces inflammation and creates a protective barrier for bacteria. If you want to try applying aloe, remember to always wash your skin before applying aloe for best results.

The technique used for application is to simply apply the aloe leaf gel directly onto your plaques while gently massaging. Remember that scratching and pulling off plaque can actually worsen your psoriasis, stimulating more plaque formation. Aloe application can be repeated up to three times a day and can also be left on the skin overnight. This may result in reduced redness, itchiness and flaking. Aloe can also be ingested. The usual protocol is ¼ cup of aloe added to juice or a smoothie twice a day. Before ingesting aloe, check with your physician to ensure there are no risks to you. 

If you do not have access to an Aloe Vera plant and want to try applying it, there are many beneficial products that contain aloe such as shampoos, for those with psoriasis on their scalp, and moisturizers. Small studies than have been done with 0.5% aloe and above improved plaques when applied regularly (three times a day for four weeks).

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Sandra Walsh:

There has not been enough research on Aloe Vera preparations to really know how effective they are and which components of Aloe Vera may be most effective in improving the symptoms of psoriasis. Nevertheless, aloe’s popularity and history of being used for various health conditions has inspired some research in its use for psoriasis.

One research study found that a preparation of Aloe Vera extract added to a moisturizing cream applied three times a day to psoriasis was more effective than just the cream alone. However, a different study found that an Aloe Vera gel applied twice a day was less effective than the gel that did not contain aloe. Still, the researchers were very surprised at how well both of these gels reduced the redness, scaling, and thickness of the psoriasis. Another study showed that Aloe Vera gel applied twice a day was more effective than a mid-potency steroid cream for mild to moderate psoriasis.

While the jury is still out on the effectiveness of aloe applied to the skin, there is definite evidence and clinical experience that keeping your skin well moisturized is effective in reducing scale and itch and possibly the thickness and redness of the psoriasis plaques.

Apply your moisturizer as often as you wish during the day. For best results, pat skin dry and apply the moisturizer immediately following your bath or shower daily. Being consistent and applying moisturizers often is the key to getting these benefits. In my experience as a nurse, patients using only topical treatments get the best results using both their prescribed topical medications and moisturizers. If you are applying a once a day prescription, put it on at bedtime and put a moisturizer on in the morning after bathing. If you are using a twice a day prescription medication, apply it before your moisturizer.

Be aware that there has not been any research on the ingestion of aloe and psoriasis. Some people can develop an allergy to Aloe Vera and oral use can have serious side effects.

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