Aloe vera is one of the most popular plants used as a topical treatment for various skin injuries. The transparent and slimy gel obtained from its leaves is known to have moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties.
These properties are the reason why the aloe vera plant has been used for years as a home remedy for various forms of inflammatory skin disorders. Some of them include atopic dermatitis, perioral dermatitis, sunburns, and acne.
In this article, I will walk you through the skin benefits of aloe vera and how to use it safely as a natural remedy for perioral dermatitis.
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What is Aloe vera?
The Aloe vera plant is a short and thick-stemmed succulent that grows in a rosette form with thorny ridges the length of its leaves. This plant is cultivated globally although the first records of its medicinal use are traced back to North Africa.
There are over 300 species of aloe vera and the most common species used in cosmetics is the Aloe Barbadensis miller originating from South Africa.
Aloe vera contains a thick gel within its leaves rich in several active compounds that work wonders for the skin. These include water- and fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, enzymes, simple and complex polysaccharides, phenolic compounds, and organic acids.
This gel is extracted by peeling off the skin of the leaves. It can either be used in its pure form or left to dry and turned into a powder and added to skincare formulations. Below are some of the benefits of this plant for the skin.
7 benefits of using Aloe vera on your skin
1. Anti-inflammatory benefits
Aloe Vera gel contains salicylic acid that helps reduce skin inflammation. It also contains magnesium lactate which reduces itchiness and redness caused by various inflammations of the skin. Its capacity to soothe irritated skin makes an ideal treatment for chronic inflammatory skin disorders, such as psoriasis, eczema, and perioral dermatitis.
2. Helps with acne
Aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-bacterial properties suggest that this plant is suitable for treating acne. Presently, no study shows that aloe vera gel, when used alone, can get rid of acne lesions. But there are reports that confirm that when combined with other acne treatments like retinoid creams and ayurvedic herbal formulations, it significantly contributes to treating mild to moderate acne.
3. Heals sunburns
This study establishes that Aloe Vera contains significant amounts of vitamins C, E, and A, known for their abilities to scavenge free radicals that cause premature skin ageing and damage to skin cells. It also contains flavonoids and tannins that all contribute to make it a powerful antioxidant. Topical application of its gel has been proven to heal burns caused by UV rays.
4. Moisturizes the skin
Aloe vera works as an intense moisturizer for all skin types. But most importantly, it is recommended for dry skin as it acts as a humectant to increase the skin’s hydration.
5. Antibacterial effect
Aloe Vera is known to contain anthraquinones. These are active compounds that prevent the growth of bacteria on the skin.
6. Antifungal properties
A study published in 2010 shows that the Aloe protein found in the Aloe vera leaf gel is effective against certain yeast infections that affect the skin, such as Candida parapsilosis.
7. Speeds up wound healing
Numerous studies show that Aloe vera can speed up the healing process of wounds on the skin. It is known to contain several enzymes and sugars that help accelerate skin reparation processes. These respectively boost collagen synthesis, wound contraction, and hyaluronic acid production.
Is Aloe vera safe to use for perioral dermatitis?
Although there are just a few studies to back this up, the answer is yes! Its proven action on other forms of dermatitis (eczema, contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis) suggests that aloe vera has the same effect on perioral dermatitis.
Perioral dermatitis is a skin inflammatory disorder that causes facial rashes and bumps to appear on the area around the mouth. And like other forms of dermatitis, it is treated by reducing the body’s inflammatory response to its triggers.
Aloe vera gel which is a natural anti-inflammatory can be safely applied topically on the areas of the skin affected. This plant contains vitamins, enzymes, sugars, and phenolic compounds that all work together to calm down irritation and speed up the skin’s healing process.
This skin condition looks like pustular acne and leaves the skin dry, red, flaky, and inflamed. Aloe vera’s moisturizing properties can help hydrate and reduce skin flakiness.
Like other forms of dermatitis, its causes are unknown. But experts have isolated a group of potential causes. These include topical steroids, heavy face creams and moisturizers, physical sunscreens, fluoridated toothpaste, and hormonal imbalances.
While there are antibiotic treatments available to help treat this condition, they can have side effects that may further irritate the skin. It is not the case with aloe vera. Daily application of aloe vera gel provides instant relief and prevents further irritation.
Unless you show an allergic reaction to this plant, aloe vera gel is a safe treatment for perioral dermatitis.
How to use aloe vera for perioral dermatitis
Aloe vera can be used in various ways – either as a stand-alone or combined with other treatments. Below are recommendations on how to use this plant to treat perioral dermatitis:
- Pure and fresh aloe vera gel can be directly applied daily to the irritated parts of your face for instant relief. Once applied, let the skin completely absorb it until dry.
- Over-the-counter gel or cream treatments containing aloe vera extract or powder are suitable for treating perioral dermatitis.
- Aloe vera gel can be mixed with other natural or essential oils that are lightweight and won’t cause congestion to the affected areas.
- It can be combined with other naturally soothing ingredients like honey and turmeric to calm down inflammation.
How to choose the best aloe vera products for your skin – Top tips
Many skincare products are advertised as pure aloe vera gel or claim to contain pure aloe vera gel. But most often than not, they do not have enough aloe vera or sometimes none at all to deliver the expected benefits.
To avoid falling prey to marketing scams, here are tips on how to make sure you are purchasing quality aloe vera products for your skin:
- Make sure your product is labelled pure aloe vera gel. Some brands use tricky wordings to make you believe their product contains 100% pure aloe vera gel. Labels that read “100% gel” or “Aloe vera 100% gel) mean the product is pure gel but not pure aloe vera gel.
- If aloe vera appears far down your product’s ingredient list, it means your product contains more additives (thickeners, fragrance, colour, alcohol) than aloe. The order in which products are listed indicated their concentration from highest to lowest. You want to make sure that aloe vera is listed among the first five ingredients for better efficacy.
- Do not buy any products that contain aloe latex, as this is a laxative that could have cancerogenic effects on the skin.
- Avoid aloe vera products that contain additives that could irritate your skin. These include alcohol, fragrances, and colours.
- For the best quality possible, make sure your aloe vera gel is certified 100% organic.