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Aloe Vera For Skin: Should I Use Aloe Vera to Treat Inflammation?
This scene might be familiar to quite a few of us: You’re a teenager and just returned home from a day out under the sun. It might have been a day out at the beach with your friends, or maybe you had a soccer match, or you were just hanging out in the park.
Whatever it is, the sun was super hot that day, and you return home a significant number of shades darker. What’s more, you also develop some redness and there’s the slight tingling sensation of an oncoming sunburn. You open the door and say “hi” to your mother, whose first response is: “Go apply aloe vera gel!”
We are all pretty familiar with aloe vera products and gel as they’re quintessential post-beach day after-sun care. It is a skin habit already. We reach for the tubes on clear green goop and slather it all over our sunburnt bodies.
If you’re the kind who keeps your aloe vera tubes in the refrigerator, you’ll be familiar with the super cooling, soothing effect that cold aloe vera has on your warm, red skin. Aloe vera seems to be the immediate go-to product in treating inflammation of the skin.
Even before you ask, “what is a blackhead,” you already know that aloe vera from the aloe vera plant treats pretty much any skin condition. But why is that? And is there any scientific proof that aloe vera is actually beneficial in soothing and repairing damaged, inflamed skin?
What is skin inflammation?
Skin inflammation is a reaction produced by your body’s immune system in response to an irritant. Our immune systems keep our bodies healthy by detecting, fighting, and neutralizing foreign invaders.
The immune system comprises a very complex system of cells and proteins that defend the body against infections. They’re kind of like a big, personal, internal army within you ready to attack and protect you.
The immune system is pretty neat because it keeps track of every germ or infectious microbe that we have encountered so that it has a playbook of how to destroy the germ once we encounter again it.
This is what we mean by building up immunity against infections and germs. When the immune system fights against these foreign germs and microbes, inflammation in the skin can occur. Typically, the skin gets inflamed because of an infection, some underlying diseases or conditions, and allergic reactions.
There are many ways that inflammation can occur and manifest in the skin. A red, itchy rash is the most common way that inflammation will show.
The rashes can look very different — either smooth or scaly in texture, it can feel itchy or have a burning and stinging sensation, it will either be elevated or flat, red, feel hot to the touch, there might be blistering and pimples, rawness, cracking of the skin, bleeding, and the skin area might be thicker.
A variety of factors can cause skin inflammation such as autoimmune diseases (such as lupus), allergies (anything that triggers an allergic reaction, from animal fur to ingredients to environmental pollution), the sun, and heat.
Why is aloe vera a common treatment for inflammation?
The aloe plant is in the cactus family and is a common garden plant. The aloe vera leaf contains pulp and a jelly-like substance which is what we are familiar with as aloe vera gel. You can easily grow aloe vera if you live in a tropical climate.
Fresh aloe vera gel has been used for millennia as a skin treatment for its natural soothing texture that provides both physical relief and added moisture, and as such has also been the best treatment for lip lines as far as DIY options.
Aloe vera’s soothing properties and ability to treat inflammation resulting from burns come from its glycoproteins which can help to repair the damaged skin cells. It could even be used as a DIY remedy to some extent for hyperpigmentation melasma!
Aloe vera cream and gel are best known as topical treatments to soothe burns. Aloe vera helps in reducing the irritation and redness that a sunburn often causes.
Aloe vera is a very effective topical treatment for immediately soothing the skin, but it will not actually repair the skin of the damage it has suffered. If you experienced a severe burn like a boil, aloe vera will likely not be effective for such injuries.
Rosacea is another skin condition that has unknown causes but it is basically a disease that affects that face causing extra sensitivity and a build-up of dead skin cells. The typical symptoms of rosacea are small, red bumps filled with pus that occur during flare-ups. Rosacea usually occurs on the nose, cheeks, and forehead areas.
During a flare-up, the affected area will be very sensitive and one might even experience some kind of burning or stinging sensations.
Aloe vera is usually used as a home remedy to alleviate the discomfort and burning sensation at the moment, but it requires targeted treatment should flare-ups occur. Thus if you want to know how to fix skin discoloration caused by rosacea, aloe is usually your go-to.
Eczema is a pretty common chronic skin condition that is a result of a weak skin barrier and reduced skin elasticity. When the skin barrier is weak, it is unable to protect itself from irritants in the environment, causing itching, redness, and inflammation of the skin.
One sign of eczema is crusting of the area that is irritated. There might be an irritant in your surrounding or an ingredient that is causing your eczema to flare up. Like rosacea, aloe vera is meant to provide temporary respite to stop the itching and irritation and keep the skin hydrated.
How might aloe vera be bad for my skin?
Is there a way to use aloe vera safely? Well, aloe vera plants themselves could be a potential allergen. You can be allergic to pretty much anything, aloe vera included. It may be a mild treatment to soothe inflammation but you never know, it might actually cause the inflammation.
You will definitely want to do a patch test before using aloe vera on your skin to check if you are allergic. Symptoms of an allergy to aloe vera include some redness, itching, bumpiness, and burning. Immediately stop using it should any of the above symptoms develop.
Aloe vera is no doubt an excellent topical remedy, but as with any product, you run the risk of being allergic to it. So do a patch test before use, and get a doctors’ advice if you are unsure of what treatment will best work for your inflammation.
Stay tuned for more skincare topics like “dark circles under eyes vitamin deficiency,” “how to address acne on sensitive skin,” and more!
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