Aloe Vera for Sunburn Relief
Aloe Vera Sunburn Remedies - Introduction
Aloe vera sunburn remedies can help to quickly relieve the pain of sunburn, and to aid in the skin's healing process. This lens provides a guide to using aloe vera for the treatment of sunburned skin.
What is Aloe Vera? - A bit of background
Aloe vera is a succulent-like plant with gel-filled leaves. This gel is associated with many healing benefits, and can be used both internally and externally. The healing benefits of aloe vera have been recognised by cultures around the world for millennia, and the plant was known as the 'ultimate panacea' to the ancient Greeks. Aloe vera is most commonly used for the relief of many skin complaints, including acne, insect bites, burns, warts - and sunburn. Some people like to keep their own aloe vera plants so they always have a fresh supply of gel when needed, but for those who prefer pre-made products, aloe vera is available in pure gel form, and also in a variety of creams, lotions, capsules, juices and other products.
What is Sunburn?
Sunburn occurs when the tissues of the skin are damaged as a result of over-exposure to the sun’s UV rays. These rays pass through the skin’s epidermis (top layer) to the dermis beneath, dehydrating the dermis cells, and causing damage. The skin may turn red, feel painful, and may blister. Sunburn may be accompanied by other symptoms such as dizziness, chills, fever and dehydration, and is followed by peeling as the skin heals. Sunburn is also associated with premature ageing, as well as with skin cancer, as UV light can damage the DNA in the dermal cells.
The severity of sunburn depends on how long you have been exposed, the strength of the sunlight, and the pigmentation of your skin (darker-skinned people have more natural protection, but can still burn).
What to Do if You Get Sunburned
- Gently bathe the area in cool or lukewarm water, and try adding lavender oil or camomile, which are natural anti-inflammatories
- Follow up with aloe vera, preferably pure aloe vera gel
- Avoid greasy lotions, as the oil traps the heat and delays healing
- Do not use ice
- Don’t burst any blisters, as this can cause infection
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- If you are experiencing widespread blistering, or have fever or symptoms of dehydration, seek medical help
How Aloe Vera Helps Sunburn
Aloe vera is one of the most popular and effective natural remedies for sunburn. The gel contains a wide variety of nutrients and other substances, including powerful anti-inflammatory agents that have a beneficial cooling effect on the skin. These include aloectin B, a chemical that has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and also stimulates the immune system. Aloe vera is also good for pain relief.
Using Aloe Vera For Sunburn
If you are using a fresh leaf for your aloe vera sunburn remedy, cut it open, and apply the pulp directly to the skin. You could also peel off the leaf's top layer, and rub the inside directly on the skin. Note that there is a yellow sap at the end of the leaves (bitter aloes) - don't apply this to the skin (or take it internally - it has laxative qualities!). Once applied, the gel has a rapid cooling effect, and forms a protective layer over the burn, reducing the risk of infection.
Refrigerating the leaves first (not the whole plant) enhances the natural cooling effect. Reapply as necessary, as aloe has a high water content, and will evaporate. After the initial burning sensation has cooled, it is best to mix the aloe vera with an oil such as vitamin E (just pierce a capsule and squeeze it out), in order to balance out the aloe's natural astringent effect.
If you are using a pre-prepared aloe vera product, follow the directions.
The Best Aloe Vera Sunburn Products
An excellent aloe vera sunburn remedy is fresh gel straight from the plant. You can also combine the gel with herbs and other natural substances to make simple aloe vera home remedies and beauty treatments for sunburn and a range of skin and other problems.
Failing that, aloe gel is readily available in stores and online. Ensure that the gel is pure, preferably organic, and not adulterated with harmful preservatives and other additives.
You can also purchase creams, lotions, after-suns and other products that are based on aloe vera. Note that many of these do not contain enough aloe vera for it to have any significant effect, and many contain undesirable ingredients that may be harmful in the long run (your skin absorbs much of what is applied to it!)
Aloe vera juice can also be applied to sunburn, and is especially good for more severe cases, where relief can be obtained by immersing the burned area in the juice, without the need to rub it on. Ensure that you use fresh or good quality pure aloe juice, and not commercial 'aloe vera drinks', which may be mostly sugar and water, with little actual aloe vera! You can also try adding other natural soothing and healing ingredients such as camomile and diluted lemon juice.
Prevention is better than cure, and to this end, taking a good quality aloe vera supplement internally before and during your holiday may also provide an immune system boost and help your skin to cope with the sun when you're there, as well as aiding in the healing process if you do burn. But this is not a substitute for using a good sun block and practising sensible sun habits!
If you're reading this, the chances are you're already suffering from some degree of sunburn, and hopefully aloe vera will help you to find relief from the pain, and speed the healing process. But the risk of future sunburn can be minimised by taking these simple precautions:
- If you really want a tan, opt for fake tan rather than sunbathing
- And if you must have a natural tan, build it up very gradually, use plenty of aloe vera-based moisturiser, and stay hydrated
- Use a non-oily sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF). Make sure it is waterproof if you'll be swimming, and reapply it regularly. Aloe vera lotions containing sun blocks are available, and are a good idea if the SPF is high enough
- In hot climates, avoid the sun between 10am and 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and protective clothing, but remember to use sunscreen too, especially on exposed skin
Of course, with the best of intentions, it can be easy to overdo the sun a little, so it's a good idea to always keep some aloe vera handy, just in case!
Aloe vera capsules can help to protect your skin from the inside out
And you can make your own aloe vera sunburn remedies to help from the outside in!
Disclaimer - Please note that none of the information provided here is intended as medical advice, and it is recommended that you do your own research, and obtain professional guidance if you are ill or badly sunburned.
Aloe Vera Bargains on Amazon
Amazon is another good source of aloe vera products and information.