Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease in which your skin cells grow and shed much more rapidly than normal. The accelerated process causes your skin to become inflamed, uncomfortable and unsightly. Psoriasis is treated through a number of conventional means, including steroid medications, light therapy and oral medicines designed to clear the skin symptoms and keep your immune system from attacking your body further. Honey, applied to the skin topically, may be a natural treatment option.
Healing Characteristics of Honey
Honey may be an alternative form of sweetener, but the viscous fluid is also a natural healing agent. According to Dermnet, an information portal maintained by the New Zealand Dermatological Society, honey has antibacterial properties and contributes to accelerated rates of wound healing. Honey that's applied to wounds, such as the skin lesions or pustules associated with psoriasis, combines with the wound fluids, called exudates, and creates hydrogen peroxide. This chemical reaction prevents bacteria from growing and hastens healing.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
There are many different types of psoriasis; the most common variety is called plaque psoriasis. The consistent symptom throughout all forms of psoriasis is a reddening of the skin and the appearance of lesions. A person with plaque psoriasis has skin that becomes thickened, blistered or shiny where affected, and the lesions may develop scales that flake off. Your skin can be itchy or painful, and the blister-like sores can ooze fluids. Honey can help reduce inflammation of the skin.
Recipe for Topical Treatment
A 2003 issue of "Complementary Therapies in Medicine" mentions a specific combination of natural ingredients that may reduce the inflammation and other symptoms of psoriasis. Though there are no marketed honey-based products specifically indicated or FDA-approved for psoriasis, natural health and home remedy enthusiasts may create their own soothing skin balm to calm irritated skin. Combining cold pressed olive oil, beeswax and raw honey to a lotion-like consistency may be able to replicate the results reported in the journal.
"Complementary Therapies in Medicine" reported on studies of the effects of honey-based topical treatment for psoriasis. Psoriasis sufferers were given a honey, olive oil and beeswax ointment to use on half their body, while using a control substance made largely from paraffin on the other half. More than 60 percent of the psoriasis patients studied showed a significant improvement in their conditions; factors such as itching, scaling and thickening of the skin, redness and oozing of lesions were assessed. Some participants were already treating their skin symptoms with steroidal applications; after using the honey-based treatment, about half the patients with psoriasis were able to decrease their steroid dosage.
Natural and alternative treatments for psoriasis, including topical applications containing honey, may be an option for some people, but like any medical treatment, effectiveness varies from person to person. The National Psoriasis Foundation acknowledges a range of complementary approaches that might include the use of honey and other natural ingredients as treatment methods, including Indian-based Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, naturopathy and homeopathy. Discuss all of your medications, supplements and treatment decisions with your doctor.