When you say “summer” you basically say “beach, sun, tan” and so on. In the search for the perfect tan, most people have to go through the plights of sunburn. Long exposure to direct sunlight, especially during midday usually leads to serious sunburns, which could also lead to other complications and skin disorders. It seems like everybody knows this and everybody is ready to take the risk, as shown by a study in the USA which established a strong relationship between the Ultraviolet index and sunburn-related terms in Google search (1, 2). This means people are aware, but they tend to ignore it because they just love to be tanned?
Anyways, we’re going to leave this question to the social studies and get back to the matter of sunburns and if Aloe Vera could prove to be efficient in relieving the pain and helping with the burn.
As you probably know, there are a lot of products out there which help prevent sunburns. Nevertheless, none of them could really fight against long exposure to the strong midday summer sun and the UV lights. Although it’s better to prevent than treat, it is also good to know about some good remedies that could help with the sunburn. One of them is Aloe Vera which seems to do a great job in helping with the pain and hydrating the burnt skin.
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Aloe vera for sunburn
It seems that many sunscreen creams on the market today contain Aloe Vera in one form or another. They also involve other nutritive constituents for the skin, but for more effective results, it is important to make use of pure Aloe Vera. If the damage has already been done and you get a sunburn, it is important to apply the Aloe Vera gel right after exposure to the sun to ease the tension on the skin. Furthermore, you can continue applying Aloe Vera every 2 hours so the skin stays properly hydrated and recover properly.
To understand why Aloe Vera has proved to be a very good remedy against sunburns, it is good to look at the plant from a botanist perspective. Aloe is a family of more than 400 different species of plants. Aloe Vera is one “member” of this “tropical family.” The plant is growing in Asia, Africa and other tropical areas and it has been quite a star in dermatology. A lot of studies have been made towards this plant (3, 4, 5). One study performed on mice showed that oral administration of Aloe Vera can reduce the incidence of tumors on the liver, spleen, or bone marrow due to its healing capabilities (6). Aloe Vera can also prove to be effective against other conditions such as psoriasis, human papillomavirus, seborrheic dermatitis, frostbite, burns, or wound healing. (7)
Although it has been proven that Aloe Vera has quite good anti-inflammatory properties, there are some studies which claim that it doesn’t actually help in cases of sunburn, but rather acts as a very efficient placebo. A lot of people claim that they have used Aloe Vera and it helped with their wounds. Now, it seems like there is a need for a lot more in-depth studies on the matter.
Until then, this is how folk medicine says you can use Aloe Vera for sunburns:
- Raw from the plant – applied directly to the skin for minor sunburn conditions.
- Gel – this must be a 100% Aloe Vera gel sold in local stores, or online. Apply directly to the affected place.
- Lotions – natural lotions are sold in stores or online. Beware of lotions that contain additives like perfumes and artificial colors. It must have a very high percentage of Aloe Vera.
- Ingestion of raw Aloe Vera – this is to be properly washed, and when this is eaten, it helps with the inflammation.
Note: you should talk to a doctor before resorting to this kind of treatment. Sunburns are not trifling matters and may lead to other serious complications.
Why does the skin get sunburned?
Our skin gets sunburned when ultraviolet lights from the sun or even other artificially made sources damage the skin cell DNA (8). The death of these cells is in a process known as apoptosis. The immune system senses the situation and releases inflammatory protein in a bid to combat the situation. The blood vessels within that region widen to increase blood flow in the affected skin cells. This process makes the skin irritated, painful, and turn red.
Before going any further talking about sunburn relief, here are some things you need to consider for your protection against sunburn:
- Irrespective of whatever season you find yourself, it is important always to apply sun protection to the skin if you know you are going to spend all day outside in the sun
- Your sun protection must be constant, as it is not enough to do things once in a while. The skin must be constantly protected before exposure to the sun and then at intervals after exposure.
- Finally, you always need to make sure that you do not overdo things with your sunscreen. Keep it simple and constant.
Other benefits of using Aloe Vera
Apart from its ability to relieve sunburns, there are many other benefits of Aloe Vera, some of which are:
- It could lower blood sugar in people who have type 2 diabetes (8).
- Relieves heartburn (9).
- Keeps the skin moisturized and clear.
- Relieves constipation (10).
It’s better to prevent rather than get sunburned. However, in case it happens, you need to treat it carefully. As for Aloe Vera for sunburns, there are different opinions and studies. One thing is sure, the plant is a quite beneficial plant in many cases, however, it hasn’t scientifically been proven that it can actually help the skin heal in cases of sunburns. So, as always, take it with a pinch of salt and see your doctor before you try anything. Some people claim Aloe Vera has worked for them, some don’t.