Read on to learn more about this natural product and the various ways it might help relieve your symptoms.
Psoriasis, or PsO, is an autoimmune disease that causes the overproduction of skin cells, which results in painful, itchy, scaly skin patches called plaques. While there is no cure for PsO, a medical professional can help you manage your symptoms with medications and lifestyle.
There are many treatments available for PsO, both over the counter and prescription required. There’s a lot of recent buzz about coconut oil as a topical skin treatment for PsO.
Coconut oil is becoming increasingly popular as both a topical treatment and cooking oil. Coconut oil comes from the fruit of the coconut — the white part. It has two forms:
Refined coconut oil comes from dried coconut and uses high heat combined with a deodorizing and bleaching process. It doesn’t have a coconut smell and is best for use in cooking.
Unrefined coconut oil comes from fresh coconut fruit and smells like coconuts. This type doesn’t use high temperatures, which is often why it’s referred to as cold-pressed or virgin. It’s also thought to have the most health benefits, both for your skin and consumption.
Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat, which is much higher than butter, lard, or tallow. When consumed as a cooking oil, it’s known to increase high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the “good” cholesterol.
Coconut oil is also used as a beauty treatment for:
But what do we know about the effectiveness of coconut oil for the management of PsO?
Unfortunately, there’s no scientifically based research to support coconut oil as an effective treatment specifically for PsO skin plaques. Coconut oil is, however, an effective moisturizer. PsO plaques typically respond well to moisturizing products, as they tend to be quite dry.
Plant oils, like coconut oil, also help to promote skin barrier homeostasis, which helps strengthen the skin’s protective barrier.
Coconut oil doesn’t require a prescription or medical office visit, so it may be more available and accessible to some people compared to other prescription-based treatments. It’s available at most grocery and health food stores in its pure form and in the form of lotions and oils meant for skin application.
While this home remedy may not work for all, it may help relieve some symptoms.
Coconut oil also contains compounds that have potential anti-inflammatory properties. There is limited evidence, but a 2017 study showed that monolaurin, a substance found in coconut oil, may even have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties when applied to the skin.
Additionally, coconut oil is known as an effective carrier oil, which means you can mix it with essential oils and other concentrated skin products to distribute it evenly across the skin. For example, there are anecdotal reports of increased moisture when mixing aloe vera gel into coconut oil and applying it to the skin. Keep in mind the effectiveness of moisture varies from person to person.
If you have PsO plaques on your scalp, the National Psoriasis Foundation recommends massaging coconut oil into the scalp.
For children with psoriasis, the National Psoriasis Foundation also recommends adding coconut oil to a warm bath to soothe irritated skin as an alternative to traditional oatmeal baths. It’s important to gently pat the skin dry and avoid rubbing vigorously with a towel after the bath so the oil can continue to moisturize the skin.
At this time, there’s a lack of well-designed clinical studies specifically evaluating the use of coconut oil for PsO. So most of the available evidence is anecdotal, based on individual experiences, and not backed by rigorous scientific research.
Yes. Other natural treatments for PsO may include:
PsO is a complex autoimmune condition and different treatments work for different people. While some individuals may find coconut oil beneficial in managing their PsO symptoms, others may not experience any noticeable improvements.
At this point, there is little research on natural or alternative treatments, like coconut oil, for PsO. But keep in mind that the risk of trying coconut oil for your PsO is very low, with almost no side effects and very low relative cost. So if coconut oil improves your quality of life with PsO, it might be worth trying!
It’s also important to note that coconut oil should not replace prescribed treatments from your healthcare professional. Be sure to discuss any alternative treatments, including coconut oil, with your doctor or derm before trying it.
Medically reviewed on July 07, 2023
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