The aim of this paper is to investigate the benefits, and claimed benefits, of daily use of topically applied Aloe Vera Juice for skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, Dermatitis, Dry Skin, Rosacea, Vitiligo, Acne, and Cellulitis
There are over 250 species of Aloe Vera that are now found the world over. As a popular and robust succulent , Aloe Vera has become a staple ornamental plant in many gardens, and in particular, low water use gardens where rainfall is scarce.
Aloes are xerophytes with structural and physiological adaptations for survival in arid regions. They are widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and a number of Indian Ocean islands (1).
Throughout recorded history up until the present day, Aloe Vera has been highly regarded and widely used for both medicinal treatments and beauty applications.
The Aloe plant and its derivative products have played a role in medicine and health care dating as far back as the 4th century B.C. when ancient Greek doctors obtained aloe from the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean. There are also many romantic tales about it, suggesting that the Egyptian Queens Nefertiti (1353 BCE) advertised as“the most beautiful woman who ever lived” and Queen Cleopatra VII (69-30 BCE) used it as part of their regular beauty regimes and medicines (2).
Because Aloe is a natural substance, not a drug, it works with the body at Cell level, feeding and repairing. It works from the bottom up so it can sometimes take days or even weeks to see a result but when you do you can be confident it is the whole skin that is in good shape, not just the surface. It is these actions that lead people to claim success with wound healing, eczema, psoriasis, burns, acne and stings (3).
There have been numerous compelling studies that have shown the benefits of using topical application of Aloe Vera for psoriasis vulgaris where many patients who have suffered from the effects for long periods
The mean duration of the disease prior to enrolment was 8.5 years (range 1–21). Patients were provided with a precoded 100 g tube, placebo or active (with 0.5%Aloe vera extract), and they self‐administered trial medication topically (without occlusion) at home 3 times daily for 5 consecutive days per week (maximum 4 weeks active treatment). Patients were examined on a weekly basis and those showing a progressive reduction of lesions, desquamation followed by decreased erythema, infiltration and lowered PASI score were considered healed. The study was scheduled for 16 weeks with 12 months of follow‐up on a monthly basis. The treatment was well tolerated by all the patients, with no adverse drug‐related symptoms and no dropouts. By the end of the study, the Aloe vera extract cream had cured 25/30 patients (83.3%) (4). One of the major findings of this study is that topical Aloe vera extract 0.5% cream significantly resolved psoriatic plaques and proved to be quite effective in healing patients suffering from psoriasis vulgaris. Patients complained of no adverse symptoms or other side-effects. They were pleased to be able to maintain their normal way of life while receiving treatment. Placebo recipients showed no change, indicating lack of efficacy (5).
Eczema (also known as Atopic Dermatitis) is an inherited, chronic inflammatory skin condition that usually appears in early childhood. Patches of skin become red, scaly and itchy. Sometimes, tiny blisters containing clear fluid can form and the affected areas of skin can weep. Weeping is a sign that the dermatitis has become infected, usually with the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (‘golden staph’) (6).
At some point in our lives, a good number of us suffer from the effects of eczema. Fortunately, most of us grow out of this condition, but for the unlucky few, it can persist and be a life-long condition. Aloe vera gel is a natural antibacterial moisturizer, and using aloe vera for eczema can hydrate the skin and may reduce the risk of eczema becoming infected. According to anecdotal evidence and some existing studies, aloe vera can be effective for the treatment of eczema .
There have been instances where people have had adverse reactions to Aloe Vera. Some of these cases are where home remedies have been applied directly from the plant to the skin, however it is difficult to control the concentration with this method of application. Too much Aloe Vera can dry the skin (7), and too little can cause you skin to feel oily, depending on your skin type. Where Aloe Vera has been used as an active ingredient in manufactured topical products, the likelihood of incorrect dosage becomes diminished due to the controlled manufacturing process.
Moisturizing and anti-aging effect: Mucopolysaccharides (8) help in binding moisture into the skin. Aloe (Vera) stimulates fibroblast which produces the collagen and elastin fibers making the skin more elastic and less wrinkled. It also has cohesive effects on the superficial flaking epidermal cells by sticking them together, which softens the skin. The amino acids also soften hardened skin cells and zinc acts as an astringent to tighten pores. Its moisturizing effects has also been studied in treatment of dry skin associated with occupational exposure where Aloe Vera gel gloves improved the skin integrity, decreases appearance of fine wrinkle and decreases erythema (9). Aloe Vera gel is typically used when you get a little too much sun and need some relief. However, an expert at Baylor College of Medicine says Aloe Vera has multiple benefits for your skin.“Aloe Vera has lots of uses,” said Kim Chang, aesthetician with the Baylor Aesthetics Studio. “It contains antioxidants, enzymes, Vitamins A and C, and it is highly anti-inflammatory. It can help treat burns, acne and dry skin” (10). Because Aloe Vera gel is mostly water, it helps to hydrate the skin without that post-application greasy feeling, says Dr. Schlessinger. It helps lock moisture into the skin, while also acting as a glue that makes the top layer of skin cells stick together, ultimately smoothing and softening your skin (11).
In the study Botanicals and Anti-Inflammatories: Natural Ingredients for Rosacea states that “Rosacea patients are increasingly seeking natural alternatives to traditional prescription treatments. Although some natural products show promise” (12) Natural cosmeceutical options serve as an additional branch of the market available to rosacea patients. Natural ingredients reported in the literature that provide hydrating, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties capable of calming the inflammatory manifestations of rosacea include colloidal oatmeal, niacinamide, feverfew, licorice, teas, coffeeberry, Aloe Vera” (13) “It appears that the theoretic value comes from their inherent anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, and antioxidant nature” (12). The aim behind this study is interesting in itself, that there are recognized benefits of the use of Aloe Vera topical treatment, and the study appears to have been compiled in order to ‘educate and inform’ medical proffesionals “Because herbal and other alternative medical treatments are used by more than half the population in the United States, it is important that dermatologists have knowledge of common and popular botanicals” (12). Moisturiser is an essential skin-care product for rosacea. Amy Forman Taub, MD, a dermatologist in Lincolnshire, Illinois, tells her patients to use a moisturizer daily. Moisturizers create a barrier that locks out irritants and can help keep symptoms at bay. But choosing the wrong moisturizer can actually make your redness worse. Choose a moisturizer that's oil-free, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic, she says. "The fewer ingredients, the better," advises Dr. Taub (14).
Vitiligo is a depigmenting disorder in which the loss of functioning melanocytes causes the appearance of white patches on the skin (15) The antioxidant benefit of aloe vera is well documented and believed to impart its benefit in vitiligo treatment by inhibiting COX2 (cyclooxygenase 2) (16) There are two types of COX enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2. Both enzymes produce prostaglandins that promote inflammation, pain, and fever (17)
Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is no real direct benefit of applying Aloe Vera Juice (or any of it’s extracts) to vitiligo affected skin area, other than after having nb-UVB Phototherapy where it’s natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have been found to alleviate discomfort for some patients after treatment.
Phototherapy is accepted as the most effective way to deal with vitiligo. Dr. Harris (University of Massachusetts Medical School) explains. “They spend two minutes standing in the booth getting the light. It looks a little like a tanning booth but standing up.” Dr. Harris treated Aparna (a 9yr old female patient) with a remarkable response. A few months later, the vitiligo on her face is completely gone.” (18) while other patients are also encouraged by claiming similar results.
Although acne is not cured by Aloe Aera, the symptoms of redness, flaky skin, and swelling is known to be rapidly decreased with its consistent use (19) Aloe Vera has mild astringent properties that prevents future acne outbreaks and helps reduce redness and swelling (20). Lauren Fine, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology states that “In Ayurvedic medicine, aloe is often used to treat inflammatory skin conditions, like psoriasis, acne and eczema,”. The aloe vera plant actually is filled with natural ingredients that make it so good at treating acne. The plant hormones auxin and gibberellins, for example, promote growth and play a role in the wound-healing response, says Fine. "It can help reduce redness in skin," she says, while helping a bit with any acne-related inflammation. (21) There is anecdotal evidence that taking Aloe Vera orally could have a beneficial effects for those suffering from Acne Vulgaris. However a study by Professor D. S. Rampton, Endoscopy Unit, Royal London Hospital, London found that “Adverse effects recorded in the patients taking aloe vera gel (Orally) and placebo were minor, similar and not clearly related to the study medications. Of the 30 patients randomized to aloe vera gel, one complained of abdominal bloating, one of pain in her feet, one of sore throat, one of transient ankle swelling, one of acne and one of worsening eczema” (22). Whilst this number is low, the comparatively small size of the study group warrants further investigation.
“Cellulitis is a common and sometimes painful bacterial skin infection. It may first appear as a red, swollen area that feels hot and tender to the touch. The redness and swelling can spread quickly. It most often affects the skin of the lower legs, although the infection can occur anywhere on your body or face. Cellulitis is usually on the surface of your skin, but it may also affect the tissues underneath. The infection can spread to your lymph nodes and bloodstream. If you don’t treat cellulitis, it could become life-threatening. Get medical help right away if you have symptoms” (23). Since Aloe Vera has been used in the development of topical cosmeceutical formulations, microorganisms of the skin flora were also tested. Staphylococcus aureus (r1), Staphylococcus epidermidis (r2), and Staphylococcus lugdunensis (r3) are commensal bacteria of the skin that can become opportunistic pathogens and cause a number of skin infections and also life-threatening diseases (24) It was determined that aloe vera gel had inhibitory effects against pathogenic bacteria, causing different diseases in humans, especially Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Aloe vera can be alternative to chemicals used in medication, food and cosmetics. It is hoped that this study would lead to the establishment of some compounds that could be used to formulate new and more potent antimicrobial drugs of natural origin (25).
All content is created and published for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. When using any new cosmetic product, we strongly recommend always try testing it first on a small, inconspicuous area of skin such as your forearm for a 24hr period before normal daily usage. If you experience a reaction, don’t use the product again. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.