Your closest encounter with an aloe vera plant may have been snipping off a bit and using it on a sunburn. But the gel of the aloe plant isn’t just good for soothing sunburns – it helps to maintain skin health, can provide relief for rashes, and help your skin heal from scarring and minor wounds.
The Egyptians were the first to commit the efficacy of aloe to writing, and we’ve been using it ever since.
Aloe’s wound-healing properties
Those with skin conditions such as acne and eczema that have to deal daily with scarring and rash will want to keep a plant on hand for topical treatments.
Aloe gel goes to work on rashes, burns, small cuts and scars by improving blood flow to the area, providing a cover to prevent further irritation or infection, and assisting collagen formation at the site. This is due to the many vitamins and compounds found within aloe, which include polysaccharides. Polysaccharides promote skin growth and healing. It also contains glycoproteins, which go to work immediately on pain – in fact it is the glycoproteins that give aloe its famous sunburn soothing quality.
Aloe and eczema – breaking the itch/scratch cycle
Eczema sufferers know it’s all about the breaking the itch/scratch cycle. If you scratch eczema patches, you spread your eczema and damage your skin. But the scratching compulsion is so strong, it can be tough to do the right thing. Aloe first works on eczema by breaking this important cycle, and then goes to work on the area with its antibacterial and antifungal properties which prevent infection. To top it off, it hydrates skin and acts as an emollient, which is key to healing skin damaged by itching.
Buyer beware – cheap products may not contain aloe
When you are purchasing a product which purports to contain aloe, look at how far down the ingredient list it is before committing to it at the cashier. Aloe is expensive, and many products will just put a tiny amount of it in the product so it can be said that it contains aloe. Another good indicator of just how much aloe is in a product is the price. If the product is cheap, it likely contains very little aloe vera. The best way to get aloe vera is directly from a plant, and it is commonly sold anywhere you can buy plants. If keeping a plant isn’t in your usual repertoire, look for aloe gel at the chemist.
Aloe drinks – good for you inside and out
Aloe drinks, which contain pulp from the aloe plant, have been increasingly popular in the West after having been in Asian grocery stores for some time. While taking aloe as a drink or part of a supplement doesn’t give you the immediate pain relief properties as the topical gel, you still get all of the other benefits such as compounds that encourage collagen growth and discourage bacterial growth. It is also an immune system booster, which helps your skin repair after minor wounds and rashes.