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practical everyday life

How to Treat Psoriasis Naturally?

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic proliferative and inflammatory skin condition that presents on the skin as thick, red patches covered with an adherent white/silver film. Psoriasis is most often found on the elbows, knees, nails and scalp.

It is an incurable disease that cyclically flares up; the affected person may have patches over a period of time, then it fades and suddenly returns. It’s unpredictable, going from a single attack to the development of new lesions several years later.

Psoriasis affects a person’s quality of life and many with psoriasis experience low morale and can go on to develop depression.

The disease can also affect the joints and eyes. The eye is involved in approximately 10% of patients, most often women. In most cases, the eye is rarely affected in isolation; it is almost always occurs alongside affect areas of the skin.

Psoriasis is very common, and affects 2-3% of the French population, across all ages.

Are there different types of psoriasis?

plaque psoriasis on knees and elbows

IThere are several forms of psoriasis, but in general, the disease is characterised by the appearance of one or more clearly demarcated patches of skin, red in colour and covered with dry, whitish skin flakes (scales). When these patches are scratched or scraped off, the skin remains red underneath with no other marks. There are several subtypes of psoriasis, but the appearance of one or more well-defined red patches is the most common. The areas most affected are the trunk* and extremities (hands, feet and scalp).

*Trunk: refers to the central part of the body including the chest, abdomen and pelvis.

The classic forms 

Plaque and guttate psoriasis

This form of psoriasis accounts for about 90% of cases. It is generally a reddish, well-defined, rounded or oval plaque covered with whitish/silvery pieces of skin that fall off when contact is made. The loose skin (scales) may be very thick.

The size of the lesions vary, from small, rounded ones (guttate psoriasis) to extensive plaques (plaque psoriasis). The number of lesions varies from case to case, usually numerous in guttate psoriasis and isolated in plaque psoriasis.

Scalp psoriasis

As the hands are one of the body extremities most at risk of being affected by psoriasis, the nails can also be affected during the course of established psoriasis. But in some people, they may also be the only area affected by the disease. They may become slightly deformed, like a thimble, thicken, lose their transparency, warp or peel off the finger. The skin under the nail may become thicker, known as subungual hyperkeratosis.

Nail psoriasis 

As the hands are one of the body extremities most at risk of being affected by psoriasis, the nails can also be affected, especially when existing psoriasis is already established. In a smaller amount of people, the nails may be the only area affected by the disease. They may become deformed, like a thimble, thicken, lose their transparency, warp or peel off the finger. The skin under the nail may also become thicker, known as subungual hyperkeratosis.

Rarer forms

Inverted or fold psoriasis

Unlike other forms of psoriasis, the lesions in this form are not located in the friction areas, but in the folds of the skin. This switch in the location of symptoms is why it is called reverse psoriasis. The lesions are different from classic psoriasis because there is an absence of scales due to the moisture in the folds. This psoriasis is distinguished by red patches with rounded, well-defined contours. The main areas affected are:

  • The folds between the buttocks
  • Inguinal folds (at the root of the thighs)
  • The folds under the breasts
  • Axillary folds (armpits)
  • The navel
  • Genital folds
  • Elbow folds and behind the knees
  • Folds behind the ears

This form is sometimes misdiagnosed as a mycosis.

Mucosal psoriasis

Psoriasis can also affect the mucous membranes. In the mouth, it manifests itself as whitish thickened areas without pain, giving the appearance of a "geographic tongue".
The genitals may also be affected by red patches that do not peel. The lesions may feel itchy, or lead to a burning sensation. They may be painful during sexual intercourse, or in some cases they are completely painless.

Palmoplantar psoriasis

Psoriasis can occur on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet, but a particular form known as "palmoplantar psoriasis" is rarer. It is characterised by thickening, loss of flexibility and cracking of the skin in these areas. The cracks are painful and may bleed. Palmopantar psoriasis is disabling for those who experience it, and makes daily activities such as cooking, walking and touching others very painful.

Facial psoriasis

This psoriasis is more common in children than in adults. It often results from psoriasis that appeared very early in the patient's life, is severe and has been evolving for several years. It appears in the form of red or pinkish patches with varying degrees of scaling in the centre section of the face. The scalp can also be affected by psoriasis and develop lesions. Although this form is rare, its location on the face is particularly life-altering for those affected, because of its aesthetic and social impact.

Severe forms

To be considered a severe form of psoriasis, the disease must be defined by one of the following:

  • Cover a large area of the skin
  • Have a significant impact on quality of life, a handicap to daily necessities
  • Be a clinical diagnosis such as erythrodermic, pustular, or rheumatic psoriasis, or psoriasis during HIV infection

Severe forms are usually related to other conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, or high levels of cholesterol or triglycerides. 30-40% of these cases lead to a depressive state or depression.

Erythrodermic psoriasis

This psoriasis is very severe because of its generalised nature; it can affect more than 90% of the skin. This is a serious form of psoriasis because, as in the case of a burn, it deprives the skin of its protective barrier function. Hospitalisation is common due to complications such as superinfections, body temperature disturbances and ionic balance abnormalities, which can appear and accelerate quickly.

Pustular psoriasis

A much rarer and very special form of psoriasis, pustular psoriasis is characterised by yellowish pustules which may be localized on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet, or occur more generally across the entire body. It may appear all at once or as a result of an already known psoriasis. On the hands and feet, the affected person may suffer from functional impairment, including difficulty walking or doing manual work. In generalised forms, the general condition can be altered by fever and joint involvement. The progression of the condition can be serious, and as such the prognosis can be severe.

No matter your psoriasis symptoms, or their severity, we recommend that you see a dermatologist. They will be able to diagnose the type of psoriasis you have and explain the treatment options available to you.

What is psoriatic arthritis?

In France, the number of people affected by psoriatic arthritis is estimated at 93,000, split equally between men and women. Symptoms generally develop between the ages of 30 and 50.

Only 20-30% of psoriasis patients go on to develop psoriatic arthritis. However, about 80% of people with psoriatic arthritis also have some form of psoriasis.

In 20% of psoriasis cases, there is associated joint involvement. This is a chronic inflammatory rheumatism that can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. It is sometimes responsible for deformities linked to irreversible joint destruction. In most cases, psoriatic arthritis develops 5-10 years after the first appearance of the skin symptoms of psoriasis.

The joint involvement may be isolated (monoarthritis), involve only a few joints (oligoarthritis) or affect many joints (polyarthritis).

This rheumatism mainly affects the distal interphalangeal joints, located between the second and third phalanges of the finger. Other joints may also be affected, such as the spine and the sacroiliac joints – the joints between the pelvic bones and the sacrum.

Is psoriasis contagious?

Psoriasis is not a contagious disease.

Is psoriasis dangerous to health?

The most common cases of psoriasis are rarely life-threatening, but they can significantly affect the patient's self-image and can lead to depression. Beyond the cosmetic aspect, the time spent treating skin lesions, maintaining clothing and bedding, along with other associated requirements, alters the quality of life of those who experience psoriasis. In 5-30% of patients, psoriatic arthritis may appear and become disabling, sometimes leading to joint destruction. In more severe forms, hospitalisation may be required to avoid risk of aggravation and infection.

What causes psoriasis?

The cause of psoriasis is still not fully understood, but it’s thought to involve a disturbance in the immune system. The presence of white blood cells in psoriasis plaques suggests this. After a skin injury, the skin’s repair process works differently. Cell turnover is much too rapid for the natural removal of dead cells to take place in time. Instead of renewing themselves in 21 days, the keratinocytes (cells which make up 85% of the surface layer of the skin and skin appendages like nails and hair) renew themselves in 7 days. The affected person then has an overproduction of keratinocytes, which leads to a thickening of the skin and significant peeling.

There are several factors which can trigger psoriasis and cause flare-ups:

  • A wound (cut, scratch, sting)
  • A burn (sunburn, heat, chemical)
  • HIV infection
  • Medications (especially those used to treat or prevent malaria, control high blood pressure, treat bipolar disorder, multiple sclerosis or hepatitis C).
  • A change in physical or psychological condition (stress, fatigue, depression)
  • Excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption
  • Obesity

Genetics is also an important factor to consider. One third of people who develop psoriasis have a family predisposition, meaning at least one family member is also affected by the disease.

What is the difference between psoriasis and eczema?

It is not uncommon to confuse psoriasis and eczema. The symptoms can be similar. But the key difference to remember is their location. Psoriasis can be found on the extremities (elbows, knees, hands, feet, scalp) and eczema on the folds (inside of elbows, behind the knees, etc.). Eczema is much more likely to itch, whereas psoriasis is only slightly itchy. The appearance is also different, psoriasis has:

  • bright red patches
  • lesions with well-defined contours
  • much thicker patches covered with thick, white/silver scales

If you are not sure whether you have eczema or psoriasis, consult a dermatologist to confirm a diagnosis.

How to treat psoriasis with essential oils?

Neutral cream + essential oil to treat psoriasis

There is no real cure for psoriasis, but treatments with essential oils can give you a better quality of life and periods of remission between flare-ups. Strictly following these aromatherapy recipes will help reduce the discomfort psoriasis can cause, and in turn improve your psychological health. 

Recommended essential oils to help fight psoriasis: True Lavender, Asian Rosewood/HO Wood, Geranium, Helichrysum (Immortelle), Lavandin Super, Niaouli, Thyme Linalol, Yarrow, Jatamansi, Myrrh, Sandalwood..

Our recipes:

Psoriasis: Coconut Oil & Shea Butter
Recette réservée aux enfants de 7 ans et plus

Mix 1 drop of Lavandin Super essential oil + 1 drop of Rosemary Camphor essential oil with a small amount of Shea Butter. Add a small amount of Coconut Oil. Apply a thin layer, every morning and evening for 1 to 2 weeks. From 7 years of age.

Psoriasis: Prickly Pear or Hemp Oil
Recette réservée aux enfants de 7 ans et plus

Dilute 1 drop of Cistus Ladanifera essential oil in 2 drops of either Prickly Pear or Hemp vegetable oil. Apply the mixture to the lesions daily, morning and evening. From 7 years of age.

Psoriasis: Rose Hip Oil
Recette réservée aux enfants de 7 ans et plus

Mix 1 drop of Roman Chamomile essential oil, 1 drop of Atlas Cedar essential oil + 1 drop of Jatamansi essential oil in 10 drops of Rose Hip vegetable oil. Apply this mixture every morning and evening to the affected areas. From 7 years of age.

Psoriasis: With a Cream
Recette réservée aux enfants de 7 ans et plus

Pour 30 drops of Jatamansi essential oil into a jar of neutral cream or Shea Butter. Mix carefully and apply to the lesions twice a day. From 7 years of age.

 

 

Disclaimer: This article is intended as a guide and is not a substitute for the advice of a physician, pharmacist or other health care professional.
For any therapeutic use, consult a doctor or a pharmacist. Refer carefully to the contraindications and precautions for use of each essential oil. In case of doubt, consult a health professional.
.



Sources: Extracts from the books "Aromatherapia, tout sur les huiles essentielles" and "HUILES ESSENTIELLES, HUILES VÉGÉTALES & HYDROLATS : Mes indispensables", by Isabelle Pacchioni, published by Aroma Thera

 

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