Tea tree oil for psoriasis: Uses, risk and benefits

Psoriasis, and specifically plaque psoriasis, is an inflammatory skin condition that causes thick, red, and scaly plaque on the skin. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that tea tree oil, especially on the scalp, may help manage the itchiness and pain of psoriasis.

Tea tree oil is an essential oil, meaning that it is the distilled extract of a plant which contains high concentrations of beneficial compounds.

As essential oils can be highly active, to make them safe for use, people often mix them with a carrier oil.

We discuss the advantages of tea tree oil in this article and the evidence for its use in the treatment of symptoms of psoriasis.

Benefits

Benefits of Tea tree oil
According to anecdotal evidence, tea tree oil has a variety of benefits for psoriasis.

Tea tree oil is an essential yellow oil that comes from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, referred to as the plant of the tea tree.

In Australia, where locals have used it for almost 100 years to treat minor wounds and skin problems, the plant grows.

Early studies indicate that there are antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties of tea tree oil.

As a result, to relieve many skin irritations and health issues, such as acne, lice, and likely psoriasis, people use tea tree oil.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that it is a safe treatment, but no clinical trials have verified that tea tree oil is either successful or safe.

Use

Such recommendations for psoriasis using tea tree oil include:

  • Mix the oil with water, add a cotton ball to the skin, leave it overnight and wash it off in the morning.
  • Dilute the tea tree oil with olive oil or other carrier oil, add it to the affected areas, dry it and wash it off.
  • In the bath, apply a few drops of tea tree oil and take a bath in lukewarm water.
  • combining one part of tea tree oil with 10 parts of shampoo

Tea tree oil is readily available and present in a wide range of skin care products. Although the only evidence that supports its usage is anecdotal, when a person uses it correctly, it is secure.

People should try various psoriasis treatments before they find an alternative that is safe and convenient for the relief of symptoms.

Risks and precautions

Psoriasis
Before using tea tree oil to treat psoriasis, speak to a doctor.

Allergic reactions have been reported by some people, including:

  • severe rashes
  • redness
  • irritation
  • swelling
  • burning

If these occur, avoid the oil from being used.

When using tea tree oil and other essential oils, take caution. It can be dangerous to add them directly to the skin without carrier oil. To lower the risk of side effects, dilute the oil.

Never consume tea tree oil by mouth. The following adverse effects may result from swallowing tea tree oil:

  • stomach upset, including diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach ache
  • blood cell anomalies
  • severe rash
  • drowsiness
  • hallucinations
  • confusion

Some people should apply caution before using tea tree oil, including:

  • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • people who are taking vancomycin, an antibiotic
  • people with linear IgA disease, an autoimmune skin disorder
  • boys who have not yet reached puberty, as tea tree oil can increase the growth of breast tissue
  • people with a known allergy to tea tree oil or its source plant

The efficacy of tea tree oil for psoriasis has not been tested in any research. When using tea tree oil, the risk of side effects means that individuals should be careful about controlling the symptoms of psoriasis before using it.

Also, anyone considering using tea tree oil should notify their doctor first because of the possible problems with some medical conditions.

Other natural remedies

To treat the symptoms of psoriasis, some people use other common herbal remedies.

They include:

  • Aloe vera: A person with this condition can apply at least 0.5 percent aloe-containing cream to the skin up to three times a day. Scaling and redness associated with psoriatic lesions can help to reduce this.
  • Capsaicin: This is the chemical that gives hot peppers a spicy flavor. Capsaicin-containing creams can help reduce pain, redness, and scaling that is associated with psoriasis.
  • Epsom salts: It can soothe irritated and itchy skin by adding Epsom salts to a bath, and may help reduce some of the scaling found in psoriasis. This remedy is well accepted by most individuals.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These are nutrients available in vegetable oils, fatty fish, soy products, nuts, and seeds, as well as in supplement form. In the treatment of psoriasis symptoms, some research supports the use of fish oils with large levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Remedies that function for one individual may not have the desired results for another individual. These natural treatments should not replace the medical treatments for psoriasis, which are proven safe and often require a doctor’s prescription.

They can, however, give additional relief when used alongside these therapies.

Lifestyle changes

Sun expulsion
Restricted exposure to the sun may improve the symptoms.

By taking these precautions at home, individuals may increase physical comfort and the appearance of psoriatic plaque.

Some examples of effective methods of home treatment for psoriasis include:

Bathing: Bathing and showering may help to remove skin that is dead and inflamed and may also help to minimize psoriatic plaque. Adding Epsom salts to the water can also help control scaly skin, but it is essential for sensitive skin to avoid hot water and harsh soaps.

Showers and baths can, however, trigger irritation and dry skin. For only 5–15 minutes, you can restrict baths or showers to one a day, keeping the temperature mild and not hot.

An individual should apply a strong moisturizer after bathing while their skin is still moist. An important natural moisturizer is coconut oil.

Sunlight exposure: Exposure to small amounts of sunlight can help to improve symptoms. However, too much sunlight can cause or exacerbate a flare-up of symptoms, so talk to a doctor before starting a light therapy regimen.

People with psoriasis should apply sunscreen to any skin that is not plaque-affected.

Being conscious of triggers: Finally, individuals can keep track of what induces their psoriatic symptoms and, if possible, prevent them. Holding a symptom and potential trigger log may help determine what causes psoriatic flares.

Anyone who uses tea tree oil or other natural psoriasis remedies should contact their physician, as some of them can cause an allergic reaction. If they interfere with other drugs or medical conditions, some of these remedies can also be hazardous.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their physician as well.

Medical treatments

To control the symptoms of psoriasis, most individuals require medicine. Topical creams, light therapy, and systemic drugs are options.

Topical medications: These are creams and ointments that are specifically applied to the infected skin by individuals. Corticosteroids, a class of anti-inflammatory medicines, are the most frequently used topical medications.

At some point, however, individuals who use these creams for a long time can find that their symptoms may get worse, making other drugs required. Synthetic vitamin D creams, topical retinoids, and calcineurin inhibitors, such as Protopic or Elidel, are other forms of treatment.

Light therapy, or phototherapy: Mild exposure to natural sunlight or artificial ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) light can ease symptoms and reduce psoriatic affected areas. Your doctor should monitor light exposure. For psoriasis therapy, tanning beds are not recommended.

Systemic medicines: These medications may be taken by mouth or injection by people with serious cases of psoriasis. Most of these drugs change the immune system, thus helping to reduce inflammation and skin cell overproduction. These, however, present a risk of significant side effects.

Biologic medication: Biologic medication can be recommended by a doctor for some forms of psoriasis, and particularly for moderate to serious symptoms. By targeting a particular part of the immune system, this type of drug would try to reduce the number of flares and manage symptoms.

An individual with this condition should always tell their physician about changes in symptoms to ensure the best care.

Conclusion

Tea tree oil is an essential oil which some anecdotal evidence indicates has beneficial effects on the symptoms of psoriasis.

There is, however, no scientific evidence available to support these advantages and the improper use of tea tree oil poses a high risk of adverse effects.

Never take tea tree oil by mouth, and always dilute it in a carrier or base oil. Make sure to follow the instructions.

Bathing in Epsom salts, capsaicin, and omega-3 fatty acids are other natural remedies. No natural treatment for psoriasis is a better alternative for medical treatment.

Sources

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  • Menter, A., et al. (2019). Joint AAD-NPF guidelines of care for the management and treatment of psoriasis with biologics. 
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  • Reuter, J., et al. (2012). Botanicals in dermatology.  
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  • Tea tree oil. (2016). 
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