Aloe vera treats a large number of skin conditions—that is why it is so commonly found in cosmetic products as well as medicinal products that directly target the body's surface or the different layers of skin. The topical uses, as skin-related applications are known, of aloe vera include the treatment of:
- psoriasis and
- herpes simplex
Although not a skin condition or disorder, another key application of aloe vera is in protection and rejuvenation —part of the reason the cosmetic industry prizes it so highly.
In the cosmetic industry, Aloe Vera is one of the most popular bio-active ingredients used as a base material for skin care products because of its well-known skin soothing and moisturizing properties. Commonly, consumers find Aloe Vera ingredients in products like:
- Facial and body cleansing and moisturizing products like day & night creams, anti-aging creams, facial wash products and body lotions and scrubs.
- After sun, skin burn and laser therapy treatments.
- Hair and scalp products like shampoos and conditioners
- Skin cleaning products like liquid- and solid soaps, hand creams and bath and shower products.
- Deodorants and antiperspirants.
- Insect repellent products.
Aloe Vera is a versatile ingredient in any skincare formulation.
The bio-active properties of the Aloe Vera are therapeutic as well and the plant has a long established reputation in the world of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAMS). The plant is well-known for its trans-dermal properties. It can reach deeper body tissues, allowing it to take all the nutrients of the aloe into the skin. Inflammatory type of skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne, can benefit from these high transdermal and anti-inflammatory properties. Further results have shown glycol-nutrients act as humectants— a substance that absorbs or helps another substance retain water and moisture. Aloe helps retain moisture in damaged tissue; the penetrating power of Aloe allows water and other moisturizers to sink deeply into the skin, replenishing lost fluids and restoring the fatty layer. Aloe Vera allows uronic acids (which strip toxic materials of their harmful effects) to penetrate deeply, making the cleansing astringent qualities of Aloe more effective.
Aloe Vera is known to be used in assisting people with the following skin conditions:
Some of the most dramatic results to date are in the treatment of burns. Studies have shown the application of an aloe vera gel can reduce the healing process by one-third the normal time. Aloe Vera is widely used in burn treatment at the trauma centres in California, Illinois, New York and Texas in the US. Aloe Vera possesses the type of enzymatic action that can absorb purulent matter and keep festering sores clean.
In studies conducted by Dr Ivan E. Danhof, M.D., Ph.D., president of North Texas Research Laboratories and a retired Professor of Physiology from the University of Texas, the interior gel from Aloe Vera was found to increase production of human fibroblast cells by six to eight times, as compared to normal cell reproduction. Fibroblast cells are found in the dermis of the skin and are responsible for fabricating collagen, the skin’s support protein. During sun exposure and through the normal aging processes, fibroblasts slow their collagen production. As aging continues, the quality of collagen is lessened and wrinkling becomes deeper. Dr Danhof found that Aloe improved fibroblast cell integrity and also quickened the making of collagen.
Studies have shown that aloe in a gel form can be more effective than using a cortisone product on burns and wounds. A recent study also showed that Aloe Vera is more effective in reducing itchiness, burning, inflammation and irritation on psoriasis skin than a 0.1% cortisone type cream.
This is a fairly common skin condition, leading to oily, red, and scaly eruptions in areas such as the eyebrows, eyelids, nose, ear, upper lip, chest, groin, and chin. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 44 individuals found that four to six weeks of treatment with aloe ointment could significantly reduce symptoms of seborrhoea.
Many Aloe Vera users suffering from eczema have also reported that their symptoms reduced, with smoother and softer skin. It is not surprising that Dr Peter Atherton—a leading authority on Aloe Vera and a research Fellow at Oxford University studying the medicinal effects of Aloe Vera—supports the claims that Aloe Vera can treat damaged eczematous skin.
Other valuable components found in Aloe Vera, such as Salicylic acid—an important acne treatment—contains anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and exfoliating properties, valuable components in dealing with painful acne type skin. An added advantage is that Salicylic acid found in Aloe Vera will not dry out acne skin, which is quite common when using other salicylic type of creams.
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Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration, MCC South Africa. Aloe Vera is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.