Can Hydrotherapy Help Treat Psoriasis?
Hydrotherapy has been used as an alternative treatment for pain, but its applications and benefits for skin afflictions, like psoriasis, have long been understudied. A recent observational study, conducted by the Avene Hydrotherapy Centre, set out to test hydrotherapy on people with psoriasis and measure the effect.
In the study, over 4,500 people with psoriasis received 3-week hydrotherapy sessions from 2001-2009. For the study participants, a baseline psoriasis severity score was determined before they began the hydrotherapy sessions. The score was then computed again after the participants completed the hydrotherapy. The researchers found that there was a significant reduction in psoriasis severity post-hydrotherapy. In the individuals who continued treatment over consecutive years, there was a marked improvement in their psoriasis cases year-over-year.
The reasons why hydrotherapy appears to improve psoriasis are currently unknown, but the researchers suggested that hydrotherapy may have an anti-inflammatory effect. Given that psoriasis is an inflammatory affliction, this may help to explain the success of the treatment. Other studies have supported the use of spa water to improve psoriasis.
One way in which these hydrotherapy studies could be improved is if researchers were to study the effects of spa water against the tap water that we typically use when bathing at home. With the increasing trend of hydrotherapy applications, we await more robust studies to better asses how hydrotherapy may be helpful; especially those where thermal spring water hydrotherapy is compared against regular bath water or herbal bath water.
Bottom Line: Does Hydrotherapy Help Psoriasis?
Answer: It's promising! The studies did not compare spa water against regular water and it’s possible that regular water may work just as well. However, if you struggle with psoriasis, it's definitely worth a try! Stay tuned for further research on this potential psoriasis treatment.
1. Merial-Kieny C, Mengual X, Guerrero D, et al. Clinical efficacy of Avene hydrotherapy measured in a large cohort of more than 10,000 atopic or psoriatic patients. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol.2011;25 Suppl 1:30-34; PMID: 21175872 Link to research.