Patients with Psoriasis Frequently Use Complementary, Alternative Medicine as Treatment


Patients with psoriasis reported frequent use of complementary or alternative medicine, but less than half said they would recommend these therapies to others.

A recent survey from the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Services has found that patients with psoriasis frequently use complementary or alternative therapies to treat their symptoms when traditional treatments fail.

Distributed through the National Psoriasis Foundation, the survey was sent to approximately 100,927 members of the foundation with 219 completing the survey. The results were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

More respondents were female than male (68.5% versus 31.5%), and most participants were diagnosed by a dermatologist and had health insurance to cover their medications. Psoriasis severity was assessed by body surface area and patient self-perceptions.

Overall, 41% of patients reported using alternative therapies, with higher utilization of therapies observed among patients who consider their psoriasis to be severe than those who do not. Additionally, 39.5% reported using complementary therapies, with women more likely to report use than men.

The study also showed that the most common reasons for using complementary or alternative therapies were that traditional medications did not help or had adverse effects. Only 4% reported care access as a reason.

According to the survey, patients reported using complementary and alternative medicine that have not previously exhibited efficacy or have not been studied for the treatment of psoriasis, including vitamin D and B12. Additionally, Dead Sea treatments were commonly reported and have shown therapeutic benefit.

"Patients turn to these treatments because what was initially prescribed is not working out for them," study author Adam J Friedman, MD, said in a statement. "But what we found through the survey is that patients may not completely understand what products will work best for them."

The study authors noted that in addition to the chosen treatments, less than half of the respondents said they would recommend complementary or alternative therapies to others, indicating that the therapies were used with little evidence to support their efficacy.

Acknowledging that these treatments are part of patients' armament, the authors suggested that educational initiatives that enable physicians to discuss evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine may improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.


  • Use of complementary and alternative medicine by patients with psoriasis. JAAD website. Published March 29, 2019. Accessed June 26, 2019.

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