Skin Benefits using Aloe Vera
Acne is arguably one of the most common skin disorders in the world, afflicting not just teenagers, but also those in their pre-teen years as well as those who are well into their middle ages. Numerous prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications are available for treating acne, but interest has been increasing in the use of natural substances like aloe vera for acne treatment and prevention.
Having acne can go beyond just the inconvenience of seeing unattractive pimples on one’s face. If left untreated or if it’s not given sufficient treatment, acne can lead to deep scars (1) and marks that would probably require radical and costly procedures such as laser treatment and a type of surgery called subcision, which involves removing the skin’s upper layer to let the underlying scar tissue rise and become level with the skin. Suffering from severe acne has also resulted in depression in a number of people, leading them to become socially withdrawn.
Using aloe vera for acne mitigation is not just based on folklore. Studies show that aloe vera extract or aloe gel contains salicylic acid, which combats the inflammation that is characteristic of most acne cases. It is also rich in the natural plant steroids campesterol and sisosterol and in the bradykinase enzyme, which likewise have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, aloe gel contains saponins, soapy substances whose anti-microbial properties are beneficial in controlling ‘Propionibacterium acnes’: a kind of bacteria that is normally found in the skin but which will cause acne if there is too much of it.
Anecdotal evidence also supports the belief in effectiveness of aloe vera for acne. Quite a number of people have described in dermatology message boards (2) about how using aloe gel has significantly reduced the appearance of zits and dried up new pimples. However, some of them also have noted how aloe gel seems to be less effective when it comes to getting rid of older red marks left by acne.
The gel from the aloe vera plant has several other skin benefits in addition to preventing and treating pimples. Research suggests that it controls the skin’s regulation of oil or sebum, and prevents skin from becoming overly dry because of its moisturizing effects. At least one study (3) also shows that aloe vera extracts are safe to use on sensitive skin and even near the eye.
Some people grow their own aloe vera plants and obtain the gel directly from them. Aloe vera for acne treatment is also available in various forms of commercially-prepared skin care products such as creams, ointments and soaps. Examples of such products include Sul-Ray Acne Treatment Soap, Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel, and Vienna Triple Lanolin Lavender Hand & Body Lotion.
(3) Study: An updated review of Aloe Vera