Acne is one of the most common chronic skin disorder affecting millions of people across the globe.
This article shall talk about the effectiveness of aloe vera, a plant found in many a house gardens, in treating your acne breakouts.
About Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a succulent plant species having no natural population and hence it is only found in cultivation.
A lot of health and cosmetic benefits have been attributed to aloe vera since ages past.
These benefits are mostly contained in the two products that it produces, gel and latex.
Aloe gel is the clear gel-like substance found in the inner part of the plant while latex is found just beneath the plant’s skin and is yellow in color.
At times the leaf is also crushed for use or a combination of both gel and latex are used.
It is the gel that is mostly used by people topically for various skin disorders ranging from sunburns, psoriasis to frost bites and cold sores.
It is also widely used around the world as a healing agent in cases of bed sores and surgical wounds. Aloe vera is known to have antibacterial properties.
How does aloe vera treat acne
Aloe gel has antibacterial and anti fungal properties which help in destroying the acne-causing bacteria and microbes.
It healing properties help in restoring the acne damaged skin, back to normal. The latex in aloe vera, on the other hand, acts as a laxative, flushing the toxins out of your body.
The healing power has been attributed to a complex chemical known as glycoprotein which is present in aloe vera.
The glycoprotein activates genes that increase the number of keratinocytes which in return helps the regeneration of the outer layer of the skin, closing the skin over wounds
Aloe vera also contains aloesin, a compound that along with increasing keratinocytes, also stimulates the production of collagen.
Apart from these, researchers have shown aloe vera to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties owing to the presence of some other compound.
Furthermore, aloe vera is known to be a natural astringent and causes tightening of the skin, forcing the bacteria and microbes out of the skin pores.
This astringent nature also facilitates removal of dirt and excess oil from the face.
How to use aloe vers for acne
If you are planning to use a fresh leaf, you can simply slice the leaf from the middle and apply the liquid directly onto the skin.
The inner pulp of the leaf, which forms the gel, can also be taken out and applied directly. It is usually advisable to cut out an old, mature leaf first.
Aloe vera can also be used in form of a face pack or mask. Some mask recipes are given below:
- Plain aloe vera mask: this simply requires using aloe vera on your face and leaving it on for sometime before washing it off in a gentle circular motion. You can also if you wish, add lemon juice to it as it might help in lightening the scars and reducing oxidative stress.
- Strawberry aloe vera face mask: For this, you need to mix 1 to 2 tablespoon of aloe vera gel, 1/4th strawberries and 1/4th cup of yogurt and form it into a smooth, uniform mixture. Use this as a mask and wash it off after some time.
- Banana aloe vera mask: simply mix 1to 2 tablespoon of aloe vera into ½ ripe banana to mash it and make it into a smooth paste. Apply this on your face and leave it on for some time before washing it off.
- Aloe vera cucumber mask: This requires adding 1 to 2 tablespoon of aloe vera gel to ½ cucumber mashed and made into a paste. This can be applied on the face and washed off thoroughly after 10 to 15 minutes.
Other benefits of using aloe vera and potential side effects
Numerous health and cosmetic benefits have been attributed to aloe vera. Some of them are listed below:
- It reduces inflammation and irritation caused due to acne breakouts.
- It is also known to reduce irritation developed as a result of using other acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide and tretinoin
- It prevents discoloration especially if you have brown skin
- It prevents hyperpigmentation
- The aloe vera liposomes help in filling the gaps caused by acne breakouts
- It eases the burning and irritation caused due to the skin condition impetigo, a skin infection caused by strep bacteria
- It is helpful in treating pseudomonas infection, which is resistant to antibiotic
- It can kill the E.coli bacteria which can cause food poisoning if not washed away from the hand.
- Aloe vera helps in clearing out wrinkles and lines from your face
- When applied to diabetic wounds, aloe vera gel helps in thickening the skin and closing the wounds
Side effects related to the use of aloe vera:
There have been no known side effect to the topical application of aloe vera. The side effects enumerated below only relate to its oral intake:
- An experiment on male and female rats exhibited carcinogenic activity based on the tumor of large intestine when aloe vera was taken in orally. The NTP states that it might have the same effect on humans as well.
- Abdominal cramps and diarrhea have been reported when aloe vera was orally consumed
- If it leads to diarrhea, it might decrease the drug absorption capability of the body
- It might decrease the blood-glucose level
- Cases of acute hepatitis have been reported, however, there is still a lack of scientific evidence to support it
Precaution while using aloe vera
Though cases of severe side effects have been relatively low with aloe vera usage, the following precautions must be taken:
- Orally taking aloe vera at times of pregnancy is possibly unsafe. It might cause birth defects in the unborn child or also lead to a miscarriage
- It should be kept away from children of less than 12 years old. Intake might lead to abdominal cramps, stomach ache or diarrhea
- You must monitor your blood sugar level while taking it as it may lower it
- Aloe latex should be avoided in case you are suffering from intestinal conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or obstruction
- Aloe latex can worsen conditions of hemorrhoids and must be avoided during such situations
- High doses of aloe latex have been linked to kidney failure and other kidney related conditions
- It can interfere with blood sugar control during or after surgery and its intake must be avoided two weeks before or after surgery.
Aloe vera might interact with the following drugs/medications:
- Aloe vera tends to decrease the potassium level and decreased potassium level might cause a reaction with lanoxin
- Taking aloe vera with diabetes medication might make the blood sugar level to low
- Taking aloe latex with other oral medication might decrease the absorbent power of the body to absorb those medicines
- Sevoflurane, used for blood clotting, might cause excessive bleeding in cases of surgery or wounds, if taken along with aloe vera
- Taking aloe latex with other stimulant laxatives might cause too much bowel movement leading to dehydration and draining of essential minerals from the body
What Users say about its usefulness for Acne?
We did an online analysis of reviews by consumers who have been using aloe vera to heal their various skin problems.
Here is a summary of what they liked or disliked about the treatment:
What they liked about it
Acne scars: Many consumers are of the view that aloe vera has been drastically effective in reducing acne scars. As a result, they do not have to use a different product for it and can rely on aloe vera both to reduce the breakouts and also to fade the blemishes and marks
Oiliness: People who had extremely oiliness said that applying aloe vera helped in reducing the oiliness of their skin while at the same time keeping it moisturized. It did not make their skin dry.
What they did not like about it:
Slimy: A few consumers were of the view that using aloe vera on the skin topically was rather messy because of its slimy texture. It is also very difficult to wash off when applied topically especially in form of a mask.
Aloe vera is one of the earliest known herbal medications used for various other health purposes as well, apart from skin healing, since ages around the world.
You do not essentially have to walk out of your house to get it but can simply cultivate the very plant in your garden quite easily.
It is an inexpensive, time effective and easy method and rarely leads to any side effects if the precautions are carefully followed.
It will improve the overall health of your skin making it smooth, glowing and soft.
If you are fed up of using chemical products and dealing with its side effects, this might be your chance to try out something natural.