Psoriasis is the third most common skin disease, following acne and eczema. As with many dermatoses (acne, eczema, burns etc), the virtues of aloe vera are praised for improving psoriasis. But where does this interest come from? What property or properties of aloe vera are beneficial for psoriasis?
Psoriasis: What is it?
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease . This dermatosis has multifactorial origins, involving genetic, epigenetic, environmental, and behavioural factors. Clinically, it presents as well-defined red, itchy patches covered with whitish scales (resembling white powder, these scales are very characteristic of psoriasis lesions!). These are located on the areas of friction (elbows, knees, forearms, legs) but also on the scalp and nails.
Regarded as an autoimmune disease, psoriasis is caused by an immune system malfunction leading to an overproduction of keratinocytes resulting in a thickening of the skin. Besides the skin damage, individuals suffering from psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing other conditions such as psoriatic arthritis, and cardiovascular disorders. Psoriasis also has an impact on mental health as those affected often face significant stigmatisation with a high risk of anxiety and depression.
The benefits of aloe vera on psoriasis?
Thealoe vera is a succulent plant, brimming with water, that has been used for millennia for its cosmetic and pharmaceutical properties. Belonging to the Liliaceae family, aloe vera or Aloe barbadensis has spiky leaves with a tough appearance. These leaves contain a transparent gelatinous pulp. It has a very heterogeneous chemical composition, which explains its broad spectrum of pharmacological activity. In cosmetics, aloe vera gel is an excellent multifunctional active ingredient known for its moisturising, repairing and soothing properties.
Studies have shown that the moisturising properties of aloe vera could improve psoriasis lesions by reducing scaling. Furthermore, aloe vera gel contains anti-inflammatory andanti-itchingagents such asanthraquinones, polysaccharides, vitamins and salicylic acid. Aloe vera gel can be applied topically to the skin as well as the scalp and has an excellent tolerance.
A study comparing the improvement of psoriasis plaques in two different groups highlighted the effectiveness of aloe vera. The treated group received a cream containing 0.5% aloe vera, while the control group received a cream without aloe vera. The cream was applied three times a day for four weeks. The results show that 45% of people who applied the aloe vera-based cream saw an improvement in their psoriasis plaques. Their PASI score (Psoriasis Area Severity Index) dropped from an average of 9.3 to 2.2. Furthermore, no adverse effects were documented. However, other comparative studies have shown little or no effectiveness of aloe vera compared to a placebo.
Thus, aloe vera is an intriguing substance for alleviating itchiness and improving the appearance of psoriasis plaques. However, despite its numerous benefits, aloe vera does not constitute a treatment for psoriasis and its use does not replace medical care.
ERNST E. & al. Aloe vera: a systematic review of its clinical effectiveness British Journal Of General Practice (1999).
CALAPAI G. & al. Review of clinical pharmacology of Aloe vera L. in the treatment of psoriasis (2015).
FANG J. Y. & al. Apoptotic or antiproliferative activity of natural oroducts against keratinocytes for the treatment of psoriasis International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2019)