Aloe Vera has been known as a burn treatment for thousands of years. Aloe was considered so effective for burns it was once dubbed the “burn plant” by ancient Chinese and Egyptians. During the first century A.D., the Greek physician Dioscorides advocated using the soothing Aloe gel on burns. Today, modern research has shown Aloe vera for sunburn not only soothes, but aids the skin in healing and can even help prevent peeling normally associated with sun damage!
What is a Sunburn?
Sunburn occurs when your skin receives too much direct exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. UV rays cause skin damage. The epidermal layer, i.e., the outer layer of skin, reddens, becomes heated, extremely tender, painful and sensitive to touch. Expect a period of discomfort the first few days followed by flaking, itching, and peeling of skin, usually within 7 days. Though most cases of sunburn are usually mild and short-lived, it’s important to avoid it. In the long term, repeated cases of sunburn can increase the risk of developing skin problems in later life, such as advanced wrinkles, liver spots, or types of skin cancer.
Symptoms of Sunburn
The symptoms of sunburn depend upon the severity. A very mild sunburn might be barely noticeable while a severe sunburn can be a serious issue requiring medical attention.
- Pink/Red color to skin
- Slight sensitivity to touch and temperature
- Prominent red color
- Hot feeling emanating from the surface of skin
- Skin painful to the touch
- Sensitive to temperature
- Mild skin flaking/peeling accompanied by itchiness after a few days
- Deep red skin color
- Boils or blisters forming on skin
- Skin very painful to the touch (almost feeling like a bruise)
- Intense itching
- Large sections of skin peeling after a few days
How Aloe Works to Help Sunburn
There are several reasons Aloe vera works to relieve the pain of sunburn:
- Anti-inflammation – The leaves of this succulent plant have anti-inflammatory aiding properties that can provide direct soothing relief.
- Hydration – Aloe Vera is 99% water, which works to hydrate your moisture-depleted, burned skin. Moisturization is also How Aloe Vera helps itching and rashes.
- Skin Growth & Repair – Aloe Vera also contains glycoprotein and polysaccharides, two key ingredients that offer skin-soothing benefits. Glycoprotein helps to minimize inflammation and pain while polysaccharides aid in skin growth and repair.
Using Aloe Vera on Sunburn
What Type to Use?
While Aloe Vera can be ingested several different ways, topical application of a pure Aloe Vera gel is the most effective way to treat sunburn. Applying the soothing gel directly to the affected area enables the solution to immediately begin doing its work and helping you feel relief. You can purchase many types of aloe-based, over-the-counter solutions in the form of lotions, creams, or ointments, but the most effective treatment will be a pure Aloe Vera gel as free of added chemicals and filler ingredients as possible.
Helpful Tip: Store your Aloe gel in the refrigerator or freezer for added cooling relief when applying to painful burns!
How to Apply?
Apply the gel liberally and often to help soothe sunburned skin. Be careful not to use aloe-based creams or lotions that have the additive ingredients petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine. They’re more than just fillers; petroleum traps the heat in your skin and benzocaine and lidocaine can irritate your skin! So long as the product you use is all-natural, you can apply as often as necessary without risk.
If you don’t mind doing the extra work, you can harvest aloe straight from your own plant. Slice the leaves horizontally as you would slice a loaf of bread to access the gel from the inner leaf. That gel is sterile and can be applied immediately on the sunburn.
Important: You should always seek a medical opinion from your physician or dermatologist in cases of severe burns. Although using Aloe Vera on babies is generally safe, be aware that a sunburn of any severity is a serious medical issue for an infant.