Aloe vera can do much more than soothe sunburn, says Joel Schlessinger, M.D., an Omaha-based dermatologist. “Its stems store water, creating a clear, gel-like substance that contains vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids,” he says.
This adaptation helps the succulent plant survive in tropical climates around the world – or in a pot in your windowsill – but the species can go beyond beautifying your garden. There’s a long history of using aloe vera gel as a home remedy, and it’s likely safe to use topically, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Either snap a leaf off your plant or stock up on a bottle of aloe vera gel. Like any other skin care product, do a patch test to see whether you are sensitive to the gel before putting it on inflamed skin.
Soothing psoriasis flare-ups
Applying an aloe extract cream several times daily might reduce redness, scaling, and itching inflammation due to mild to moderate psoriasis, the Mayo Clinic states. It may take a month or more to see improvements, however, so talk to your doctor about other treatment options if you’re concerned.
Beyond its antibacterial properties, the gel has salicylic acid, an exfoliant that unclogs pores and acts as an anti-inflammatory on acne-producing oil glands. Also look for products with benzoyl peroxide to kill pimple-causing bacteria and retinoids to prevent skin cells from clogging in the first place.
Speeding up the healing process
“Aloe vera contains agents known to help inhibit fungi, bacteria, and viruses,” says David Lortscher, M.D., a California dermatologist. It may help speed healing of wounds, including first- and second-degree burns, according to the Mayo Clinic. Always seek professional care if you have deep burns or burns covering a large area of the body.
Helping with cold sores
Dabbing on an aloe-containing cream could get that pesky lesion to go away faster due to those antiviral properties, some past research suggests.
With all of its moisturizing and soothing benefits, aloe vera deserves some space on your counter for more than just the summer. Stock up on the gel or buy the plant itself.