Does Using Aloe Vera on Skin Inflammation Help or Hurt?
By Kristeen Cherney
Skin inflammation, which includes swelling and redness, occurs as an immune system reaction. While redness and swelling can develop for a variety of reasons, rashes and burns are perhaps the most common symptoms. More severe skin inflammation can require medications, but sometimes mild rashes may be aided with home remedies like aloe vera.
Aloe vera itself is known for its ability to treat wounds and inflammation, which can include mild burns and skin irritation. There are numerous over-the-counter (OTC) products to choose from, and you can even extract the gel from fresh aloe leaves. You don't need a prescription for this remedy.
Although considered safe overall, aloe vera does carry the risk of making some skin rashes worse. It's important to talk to a doctor before attempting using aloe vera to treat skin inflammation at home.
When Aloe Vera for Redness May Treat Irritation and Inflammation
Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties that may help soothe skin rashes. As a bonus, aloe is also thought to have antimicrobial capabilities, which may in turn help to prevent infections. Additionally, aloe vera gel is known for its ability to help moisturize your skin without leaving any residue that heavy creams sometimes can.
While aloe vera can't cure any skin disease or treat every single instance of skin inflammation, here are the instances where it could possibly help:
Aloe vera gel is perhaps best known for its ability to help treat burns. If you've ever had a sunburn, you may have used an OTC gel to help reduce itchiness, redness, and overall irritation. The same concept may apply to mild heat or chemical burns.
To use aloe vera for burn treatment, apply it liberally to the affected area multiple times per day. You may know it's time to apply more if your skin starts feeling hot. Aloe vera is safe to use until symptoms of your burn start to improve after a day or two.
While aloe vera may provide temporary burn relief along with a cooling effect, it won't reverse any damage that may have been done to your skin. It also isn't an appropriate treatment for more severe burns, which can include symptoms such as boils, blisters, and peeling skin.
Rosacea is known for causing skin redness, especially around your face. There's no cure for this chronic skin condition, so preventive measures and lifestyle changes are important in managing symptoms.
Aloe vera is one type of home remedy used for rosacea. You may apply the gel liberally during flare-ups for relief from redness and burning.
Perhaps one of the most common inflammatory skin conditions is eczema (dermatitis). While there's not a single cause for its occurrence, the subsequent rashes are thought to stem from an immune system reaction to substances, allergens, or heat.
Aloe vera gel may provide eczema relief by cooling down hot skin. It can also help moisturize dry skin rashes while offering itch relief.
While aloe vera can't stop the excess skin cell accumulation that is notable in psoriasis, OTC aloe creams may provide temporary relief from overall irritation and inflammation.
Apply the cream as needed throughout the day for symptom relief. It may take at least a month of daily use to see noticeable improvements in your skin rashes.
When Aloe May Worsen Symptoms
Aloe can help alleviate symptoms of skin rashes that are mild in nature. However, it's not considered an effective treatment for more serious inflammatory skin conditions. Aloe vera may also—in rare cases—cause skin inflammation. Don't use aloe vera if you have an allergy to it.
Can aloe vera cause a skin rash?
While considered safe for most people, there is a risk of an allergic reaction to aloe vera. In such cases, you might see signs of contact dermatitis, which can develop when your skin comes in contact with an irritating or allergenic substance. Symptoms may include:
- skin rash
If you've never used aloe vera before, you should conduct a patch test to make sure you're not allergic. This involves applying the gel to a non-conspicuous area of skin, such as the inside of your elbow. The downside is you have to wait at least 24 hours to see if any irritation develops. If no such reactions occur, then it should be safe to use the product on your skin rashes.
Can Aloe Vera Make Eczema Worse?
Aloe vera won't likely make eczema worse unless you're allergic to it. The greater risk is relying on aloe for eczema treatment when it may not actually work. Aloe vera gel could temporarily alleviate feelings of burning, but it can't treat the underlying causes of your eczema rashes.
Sometimes eczema rashes may bleed due to scratching. You should not apply aloe to broken skin, as this can increase burning sensations.
When to See a Doctor
Aloe vera can help soothe certain cases of skin inflammation, but most effects are temporary at best. If your symptoms last longer than a few days, get progressively worse, or spread throughout your entire body, then it's time to see a doctor to evaluate your skin rash.
A doctor may also refer you to a dermatologist, who specializes in the treatment of skin disorders. They can help diagnose the cause of your rashes and help treat the underlying source of inflammation, rather than the symptoms alone.
You should also see a doctor if you experience any negative reactions after using aloe gel. This could indicate an allergy to aloe vera. If you suspect an allergic reaction, stop using aloe right away.
Never take aloe vera gel or cream, aloe latex, or whole-leaf extract orally.
Seek immediate medical care if you suspect your rash is infected. Signs may include fever, blisters, and pus-filled lesions in your rash. Extremely painful rashes also require medical attention.
Due to its ability to soothe inflammation and wounds, aloe vera can be a temporary solution to treat the symptoms of a mild burn or skin rash. However, aloe vera isn't a viable treatment option for more severe burns or severe inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema and rosacea. Stronger medications are needed for more severe skin rashes.
While rare, aloe vera may also cause an allergic reaction in some people. Always conduct a skin patch test for use, and discontinue any aloe gel products if you notice any new rashes.
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