The aloe vera is a plant belongs to the succulent variety…..no really. That is what the variety is called.
Aloe vera has been known to have several benefits and is very commonly used in the development of cosmetics. Though, it has been known to have a wide range of applications. It’s actual effect with regard to these applications is still yet to be studied. But recently, aloe vera gel has also been used in the treatment of acne.
To know how it helps with acne. Let us have a more detailed view of aloe vera and its history with regard to medical usage.
History of Aloe Vera
For some time now aloe vera has been used by several cultures for its medicinal and cosmetic properties. Especially with regard to the skin and overall beauty. The term Aloe means “shining bitter substance” and is actually derived from the Arabic term – Alloeh. Vera is derived from Latin and it invariably means – True.
Greek scientists, over 2000 years ago, even considered aloe vera to be the universal panacea. In ancient Egypt, it was referred to as the “plant of immortality”. Aloe vera still serves a pivotal role in dermatological treatments to this very day.
Medicinally, aloe vera has found its place in multiple cultures across millenia. Some of the cultures that were known to have used aloe vera for medicinal treatments include India, Japan, China, Egypt, and Greece. Egyptian royalty such as Cleopatra and Nefertiti were known to have incorporated aloe vera into their beauty treatments.
An English translation of the Dioscorides’ Medical treatise De Materia Medica contained the first reference to Aloe Vera in English. Aloe vera was even used to treat wounds among soldiers by Christopher Columbus and Alexander the Great. During the 1800s, Aloe vera was consumed as a laxative in America.
By the 1930s, Aloe vera progressed to becoming an effective treatment for radiation dermatitis.
What Exactly is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is basically a plant that goes by the botanical name of Aloe barbadensis miller. It is a perennial shrub-like, green colored plant that grows in dry regions. Most commonly, it can be found in regions such as Africa, Europe, America, and Asia. Aloe vera can be identified by certain characteristics.
For starters, it has leaves that are triangular in shape. These leaves have serrated edges and are very fleshy. The leaves also contain flowers and fruits that are filled with seeds. The flowers are usually tubular in shape and yellow in color.
Another important aspect of aloe vera leafs is that it possess 3 layers.
Firstly, there is a layer of clear gel that is composed of 99% water and 1% amino acids, vitamins, sterols, and lipids. The central layer is a yellow colored sap that is composed of glycosides and anthraquinones. The final and outermost layer is called the rind. It is composed of around 15 to 20 types of cells. This layer is responsible for synthesizing proteins and carbohydrates, while also lending protection.
The rind is also highly vascular, which enables the transportation of starch and water to other areas of the plant.
Aloe vera also contains a wide array of active constituents such as amino acids, saponins, lignin, sugars, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and salicylic acids.
Can Aloe Vera Treat Zits?
As we have seen earlier, aloe vera offers a ton of benefits for our overall health. But, can it actually cure acne?
According to a study conducted in 2014, aloe vera probably does play a major role in treating acne. The study observed two groups of people affected by severe acne. The first group was treated with a topical retinoid cream, while the second group was administered a combination of retinoid cream along with aloe vera gel.
It was noted that the second group showed much faster progression in the healing of acne scars. However, it was also observed that aloe vera gel does not cure acne, rather, it helps in the elimination of acne scars and heals acne wounds faster.
Here are some of the reasons why aloe vera gel has a positive effect on acne:
⇒ Aloe vera possesses anti-bacterial properties, which are highly effective in treating acne lesions. The aloe gel stops the bacteria from infecting the acne scars, thereby speeding up the healing process. Aloe vera gel also has anti-fungal components that can fight an inflammatory reaction on the skin.
⇒ Aloe vera also acts as an astringent. Meaning that it can dispose of excess dirt and oil from the surface of the skin. By eliminating the excess oil and dirt, it helps prevent repetitive acne breakouts.
⇒ Aloe vera contains a chemical called ‘magnesium lactate’. Magnesium lactate helps reduce itching on the skin, which can occur as an effect getting pimples. Magnesium lactate has also been known to have a positive effect on the treatment of sunburns and rashes.
⇒ Aloe vera also promotes skin regeneration. This helps in the reduction of acne scars. A component called ‘anthraquinone’ present in aloe vera gel, promotes the creation and restoration of new cells. It also replenishes important nutrients in the skin. This contributes to the elimination of acne scars, making the skin look fresh and blemish free. The chemical also regulates pigmentation to make acne scars look less noticeable.
⇒ Aloe vera is also composed of saponins such as mannans, gibberellin, polysaccharides etc. These saponins are responsible for eliminating acne causing bacteria and other microorganisms. They also eliminate the propioni bacteria, which is another acne causing bacteria.
Also Salicylic acid can also be found in aloe vera gel. The acid helps with the unclogging of pores, thereby eliminating the chances of an acne breakout. The acid also helps reduce whiteheads, blackheads and restores the pH balance on the skin.
One of the reasons behind the occurrence of blemished skin is the accumulation of dirt in the pores. This further leads to bacterial infection and blackhead formation. However, due to the astringent properties of aloe vera gel, the pores can be tightened. This inhibits the bacteria from settling within the pores, thus decreasing the chances of an acne formation or breakout.
How to Use Aloe Vera Gel to Treat Acne?
There are many ways to use aloe vera gel to treat your skin inflammation. For starters, you can use it as a topical application. All you have to do is apply it on your skin. However, there is a right way to do it, if you want to see perfect results. Here are a few steps to help you out:
1. The first step is to consistently wash your skin twice a day. There is not need for harsh soaps or lotions. None. Simply take a shower morning and night. Use ONLY the shower water. Gently use your hands on your skin, rubbing your face in a circular direction. Don’t do it for long, 30 seconds max. Once out of the shower, simply pat dry your face.
2. The second step involves getting your hands on some aloe vera gel. For this, you’ll need a pair of pruning scissors to cut a leaf from the aloe plant. A sharp knife will also do. Now, make sure you cut the thick area of the leaf, which is usually the bottom part.
3. Now, using a gentle, but firm approach, squeeze out the gel from the stem. Once you’ve collected enough aloe vera gel, just apply it on the affected areas of your skin. Don’t apply too much. Instead, pat thin layers onto the skin. Once that is done, wait till the aloe vera gel dries up. You can wear your clothes after the gel becomes dry.
If you want, you can do this at least twice a day. Ideally, once after you bathe and then, once before you go to bed. Applying the gel before going to bed gives it enough time to act on the acne induced inflammation and heal it. If getting the aloe vera gel from the plant is hard, you can buy some from a pharmacy. Most of the aloe gel available in pharmacies are quite natural. Therefore, you there’s no need to worry about ill side-effects.
Other Ways to Use Aloe Vera Gel as a Skin Treatment
Apart from using it as a topical application for acne, aloe vera gel can be combined with various other treatments to gain numerous benefits.
A. The gel can be applied onto the face as a facial mask by mixing it with some rose water and honey. The mask must be washed off after 20 minutes. Repeating this process three times a week can significantly reduce pustule formation. Adding turmeric to the mix can also boost the anti-septic properties and even improve the complexion.
B. Mixing aloe vera gel with lemon juice has also been known to have a major anti-bacterial effect on the skin, which inhibits the formation of acne. There has also been aloe vera added to mud masks. Here you can find out how a mud mask from an ancient sea works wonder.
C. I do strongly suggest you just use water in the shower to wash your face. If, and only if, that fails, you can try this.. Try a glycerin based aloe vera soap which may also help prevent breakouts. Only use a light amount. The soap can be used twice adaily to successfully fight the acne and improve the skin. The glycerin will help prevent the skin from becoming too dry.
D. You can try just a spot treatment. Mix the aloe vera gel with water to create a juice like substance. The substance can then be rubbed onto the affected areas using a cotton ball. This nourishes the skin and fights off the acne related skin conditions.
E. Men with sensitive acne affected skin can even try using the aloe vera gel as a shaving gel. Not only will the aloe vera gel prevent acne, it will also help with a nice, smooth shave. Plus, it is much safer than using a chemical based shaving cream or gel. In order to get a perfect aloe vera gel shave, you can follow the steps below:
1) Shave after a hot shower. The water and heat will make your facial hair soft. This will make the shaving process easier and cause less irritation.
2) Warm up the gel by rubbing it between your palms. This will help with a smoother application.
3) Use as much gel as possible to make the shaving as smooth as possible. Aloe vera gel is all natural and there is no risk in using a lot.
4) Use the right shaving method. It is recommended that you do not shave against the grain as it can cause the development of ingrown hair.
5) Wet the blade as often as possible and use very little pressure in your strokes.
Aloe Vera’s Use in Medicine and Cosmetics
Aloe vera has been used in the following ways:
→ Treating UV and Gamma Ray exposed skin: Topical applications of aloe vera on radiation affected skin has been known to stimulate the production of an anti-oxidant protein which helps with the healing process.
→ Healing wounds: Oral or topical application of aloe vera has also been observed to help with the healing of wounds. It increases the production of collagen, which results in faster wound closure.
→ Immune system: Aloe vera has been known to boost the immune system and even fight off cancer cells.
→ Laxative effect: Aloe vera has been known to help with proper digestion and treating constipation. It increases mucus secretion and water content in the intestines.
→ Anti-aging effect on skin: Aloe vera stimulates the fibroblast, which again, can increase the production of collagen. This will make the skin become more elastic and less wrinkly as a result. Aloe vera also helps bind moisture into the skin, which leaves the skin moisturized. Apart from these, there are many other benefits to the skin that come with the use of aloe vera.
→ Anti-septic effect: Aloe vera contains chemical components such as salicylic acid, phenols, sulfur and cinnamonic acid which act against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
To Wrap Things Up
As you have read above, aloe vera gel does not cure acne. It just helps reduce or eliminate the other conditions that occur as a result of acne. Don’t stop applying the aloe vera gel if you see a reduction in your acne breakouts. The process has to be continuous and you must use it as long as your skin is prone to flare-ups.
It is always wise to talk to your doctor before switching to any new treatment. This includes aloe vera gel. Though aloe vera gel is natural, there maybe rare allergies that you may not be aware of. Your doctor can also provide you other treatments in combination with aloe vera gel to help you fight your acne condition.
Cheers for reading. Make sure to place in questions or comments in section below.