(Woodpath is an education site focused exclusively on gut health. Our articles are researched by clinical nutritionists and contain citations at the end of the page.)

Nearly 2.6 percent or roughly 7.5 million American people, between the ages of 15-30, are affected by psoriasis. (NIH, 2018)

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that occurs when skin cells develop too quickly and result in a build-up of skin in several layers.

Psoriasis stems from a dysregulated immune system involving overactive T cells. This leads to excessive swelling and rapid skin cell turnover. (Lowes, Suárez-Fariñas, & Krueger, 2014)

Unfortunately, the exact cause of psoriasis remains unknown although mounting evidence suggests it could be the result of a genetic predisposition, gut dysbiosis and other key factors listed below.

Fortunately, there are several natural treatment options available that usually result in meaningful improvements, including specific probiotics (we make recommendations further down on this page).

Gut Dysbiosis and Psoriasis

Microorganisms living in the gut are responsible for supporting the immune system. When the immune system is not functioning properly, chronic conditions, such as psoriasis, may develop.

Supporting the gut microbiome through the use of probiotics, prebiotics, and polyphenol foods can help boost the immune system and help to prevent chronic inflammation.

The gut microbiome is essential to the health of your entire body because of the central role it plays in developing and maintaining the correct functioning of the immune system. (Belkaid & Hand, 2014)

Growing evidence suggests that gut dysbiosis can cause psoriasis as well as other inflammatory diseases. The result of a study conducted in 2015 shows that individuals with psoriasis were more likely to suffer from gut dysbiosis in comparison to healthy individuals. (Scher, Ubeda, Artacho, et al., 2015)

Types of Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that can range in severity. A more mild form involves patches and red, raised bumps. Severe psoriasis can occur in up to 5% of the body and include lesions, oozing, burning, bleeding, and swollen joints. Sometimes those with one type of psoriasis may have another or even two or more, as well.

There are five different types of psoriasis:

Plaque psoriasis

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this is the most common form of psoriasis. It affects up to 90% of people with psoriasis. It appears as red patches with silvery white plaques or scales, which itch, crack, and bleed. It is often seen on the scalp, elbows, and knees.  

Guttate psoriasis

This is the second most common types of psoriasis, affecting 10% of those with psoriasis. It has a teardrop-shaped appearance and presents as small, isolated, red, and scaly lesions. These typically show up on the arms, legs, and torso. However, they may also show up on the face, scalp, and ears.

Erythrodermic psoriasis

This is a rare but serious form of psoriasis. It may require immediate intervention. Lesions cover extensive areas of the body and resemble large scales or sheets that look similar to burns. These lesions are usually very itchy and painful and can cause swelling and infections.

Inverse psoriasis

This type occurs on parts of the body that are more prone to sweating and friction. The lesions from inverse psoriasis appear as smooth and red. This form of psoriasis typically occurs under the arms, groin, and areas with skin folds.

Pustular psoriasis

This type presents as red areas on the skin. These red areas contain white pustules that turn into scales.  There are three forms of pustular psoriasis:

  • von Zumbusch pustular psoriasis: Shows up suddenly along with fever, chills, and dehydration.
  • Palmoplantar pustulosis: Appears on the bottoms of the feet and hands.
  • Acropustulosis: A rare form that appears on the tips of the fingers as well as toes.  

Symptoms and Risk Factors

Most people with psoriasis not only experience pain and discomfort, but are also impacted by issues with their self-esteem. (Weger, 2010) This is due to its appearance on areas of the skin that are harder to conceal.

The most common symptoms individuals may experience include:

  • Plaques
  • Scales that are silver or white
  • Lesions, which can be extremely sensitive, itchy, and painful
  • Dandruff or scalp psoriasis, which can occur in about 50 percent of those with psoriasis
  • Cracked skin
  • Discolored skin that bruises easily or oozes and bleeds
  • Discolored fingernails and toenails
  • Nail pitting
  • Toenail fungus

Contributing factors that may contribute to the development of psoriasis include:

  • An overactive immune system
  • Poor diet
  • Abnormal small intestine permeability (leaky gut)
  • Hormonal changes
  • A family history of psoriasis
  • Gut dysbiosis
  • Psychological stress
  • Gluten intolerance
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Nutrient deficiencies such as zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and essential fatty acids
  • Infections

There are also risk factors that once you already have psoriasis can cause a psoriasis flare-up. These risk factors include:

  • Anything that causes injury to the skin, such as an infection, inflammation, or scratching.
  • For a small percentage of those with psoriasis, sunlight can trigger a flare-up or worsen the condition.
  • Various medications can aggravate psoriasis. Some examples include lithium, beta-blockers, antimalarials (medications used to treat malaria, arthritis, or lupus), NSAIDs, emotional stress, smoking, and drinking alcohol.

Natural Treatment Options

Conventional medications used for psoriasis treatment may work, but it likely won't do anything long-term. It is vital to find what has triggered the onset or is the cause of flare-ups to effectively treat psoriasis. Fortunately, there are several natural ways to combat psoriasis such as:

A high quality daily probiotic

Probiotics that contain 50 billion CPU's can help balance the gut microbiota and boost the immune system and fight inflammation.

Here are some quality options, which can be taken alone or combined:

Soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salts or Dead Sea salt

This will calm the itching, help soothe the skin, and remove scaling.

Avocado oil with B12 cream or aloe cream

Both have no side effects and are effective in managing the symptoms of mild to moderate forms of psoriasis. (Syed, Ahmad, Holt, Ahmad, Ahmad, & Afzal, 1996)

Effective stress management

The practice of meditation can help reduce psoriasis flare-ups.

A high-quality multivitamin

Can close any nutritional gaps that are contributing to the psoriasis

Fish oil supplements

Consuming up to 2000 grams of fish oil daily can help reduce inflammation and improve psoriasis.

Evening Primrose oil

At least 3000mg per day has an anti-inflammatory effect

An anti-inflammatory or Psoriasis Diet

Eating anti-inflammatory foods in conjunction with foods from the Psoriasis Diet can help with inflammation and intestinal permeability. These foods can also treat and prevent psoriasis, as well. Foods to eat include:

  • Foods that are high in probiotics — These foods include kefir, yogurt, and fermented vegetables.
  • Foods that are high in fiber — High-fiber foods will help detoxify the body and keep the digestive system healthy. Examples of high-fiber foods are fruits, vegetables, seeds, and legumes.
  • Foods that are high in antioxidants — Antioxidant-rich foods fight cancer and heart disease, which are more common in those who have psoriasis. Foods include wild berries, matcha green tea, pomegranate, nuts (especially pecans), and cilantro.
  • Foods that are high in zinc — Zinc is essential for healthy skin and helps reduce joint swelling.Foods high in zinc include grass-fed beef, oysters, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas.
  • Foods that are high in vitamin A — Foods high in vitamin A increase skin healing. These foods include liver, eggs, milk, leafy greens, melons, mangos, carrots, and tomatoes.
  • Raw dairy — Raw dairy is high in vitamin D and enzymes, which help break down foods and improve the digestive system.
  • Turmeric with black pepper — Add this to soups, stews, eggs, or vegetables. Turmeric is high in curcumin and black pepper assists absorption. 3 grams of curcumin is safe and effective in reducing inflammation, preventing psoriasis, as well as minimizing flare-ups.
  • Avoid - Sugar, alcohol, gluten, any foods you are allergic or intolerant to

And, as always, you can get gut updates and stunning nature imagery from our popular Facebook page. Also, scroll down for our best gut articles.

Research Citations

Reveal all citations