Approximately 7.5 million people in the United States suffer from psoriasis, an inflammatory disease of the immune system that mostly involves the skin and joints but can also affect the fingernails, toenails, genitals and mouth, according to the American Academy of Dermatologists(1).
Psoriasis is associated with several other conditions, including depression and diabetes, and can be a serious illness in and of itself when left untreated. There is a particularly strong correlation between psoriasis and arthritis(2).
Treatments for psoriasis usually come in the form of topical medications like emollients, tazarotene, and topical corticosteroid, some of which can be used in conjunction with each other. But there is another avenue for treatment – topical herbal treatments, which have been shown in many cases to be effective in helping reduce the symptoms of psoriasis, including skin inflammation and irritation and joint pain.
Natural Treatments For Psoriasis
Natural herbal treatments for psoriasis have been around for a long time. A 1996 survey of patients with psoriasis revealed that over half of psoriasis patients used one or more alternative medicine to help deal with their skin condition(3). There’s a reason for this popularity – herbal and alternative medicines for psoriasis can be effective, especially when used in a complementary fashion with more “traditional” medical interventions.
Aloe vera is one herbal treatment that has met with some success in treating psoriasis(4), but the real star of the show is capsaicin, the main ingredient in cayenne pepper. It’s great for short-term relief when used topically and was found to lead to a significant decrease in scaling, thickness, erythema, and pruritus – all symtoms of psoraisis(5).
Capsaicin And Other Conditions
Capsaicin has been explored for its usefulness as a topical analgesic – an effective natural pain reliever for chronic soft tissue and joint pain associated with skin conditions and arthritis(6). Generally well tolerated, it doesn’t come with the drawbacks that some other, more typical treatments – like topical steroids – can have, which can include withdrawal symptoms and dependency issues(7).
Capsaicin has also been shown to reduce itching and inflammation in patients suffering from eczema(8).
Using Topical Capsaicin
There are many ways to acquire and use capsaicin as a topical treatment – the most popular is in store-bought creams that contain the ingredient, like Capsagel or Icy Hot. While it’s not a cure, it can help treat symptoms of pain associated with neuralgia – the pain that comes when nerves near the surface of your skin are irritated. Many of these creams are available over the counter, although some are prescription-only.
Before you use these creams, make sure you’re aware of any potential drug interactions or medical problems that could affect your use of the medicine. If you have a history of heart of blood vessel problems or hypertension, consult your doctor about which capsaicin treatment would be best for you. If you have large sores, broken, or irritated skin at the application area, use the cream very carefully or it may cause more irritation(9). Stop using capsaicin cream if you start experiencing shortness of breath while using it.
Overall, a capsaicin cream could be a good, natural way to relieve symptoms of many different conditions, including psoriasis, excema, shingles, and arthritis, but as with any medicine – even natural medicines! – it’s important to be informed. Educate yourself about what natural remedies like capsaicin can do for you and your conditions – you may be surprised.