Psoriasis is a general term used to describe a group of chronic skin cell disorders triggered by underlying immune system malfunctions. Potential treatments for these disorders vary with the severity of their related symptoms. If you have mild or moderate psoriasis, you can potentially gain some relief from your symptoms by bathing in water that contains sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda.
People with psoriasis have immune systems that mistakenly make their skin cells go through an accelerated life cycle that lasts for days instead of weeks. As excess skin cells die off and pile up, they accumulate on the skin's surface and trigger the formation of psoriatic patches. Roughly 80 percent of people with psoriasis have a condition called plaque psoriasis, which produces inflamed lesions that are covered in silvery, scale-like skin cells. Additional related disorders include pustular, guttate, erythrodermic and inverse psoriasis, as well as a condition called psoriatic arthritis.
Sodium Bicarbonate Basics
Sodium bicarbonate is a crystalline, white powder that comes from a combination of monosodium salt and a substance called carbonic acid. It has alkaline properties that neutralize the presence of acid, and it also helps replenish lowered stores of important substances called electrolytes. Common internal uses of sodium bicarbonate include relief of acid indigestion and heartburn and reduction of the acid content in your blood or urine. It also is used to create topical solutions you can use for enemas or for cleansing your mouth, nose or vagina.
People with mild or moderate psoriasis commonly receive treatment with topical creams or ointments that contain active ingredients such as corticosteroids, salicylic acid, vitamin D analogues, coal tar, retinoids, moisturizers and a medication called anthralin. According to a study published in 2005 in the "Journal of Dermatological Treatment," patients with mild or moderate psoriasis who bathed in sodium bicarbonate solutions for three weeks experienced a significant reduction in perceived skin irritation and itchiness. Many of the study participants received enough benefit from sodium bicarbonate that they continued self-treatment after the study came to an end.
The authors of the study published in the "Journal of Dermatological Treatment" concluded that sodium bicarbonate baths have a clear role to play in psoriasis treatment, alongside even the most advanced modern treatment methods, which are typically used for severe psoriatic disorders. MayoClinic.com notes, however, that both psoriasis and psoriasis treatments are quite unpredictable, and treatments that work for one person may not work for another. Review your psoriasis treatment options with your doctor and ask her if topical use of sodium bicarbonate can help ease your psoriasis-related symptoms.