Parents are always looking for topical products that can help their child’s eczema. Besides the standard treatment such as emollients and steroids, some parents also look for natural, non-pharmaceutical products. Aloe is a very common product and substance that many patients ask about. In this article, I will try to answer the question, “Does aloe help eczema?” Historically, aloe has been used by many civilizations for various purposes including wound healing and even anti-aging. [1]

aloe help eczema

 

How Does Aloe Vera Work?

 

Aloe vera contains many chemicals that are responsible for healing and soothing irritated skin. One study found 75 different components such as sugars, minerals, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes,  saponins, lignin,  salicylic acids. [1]

How Does Aloe Vera Help Eczema?

 

Aloe has been shown to possibly decrease allergic skin reactions and sensitivity (by decreasing IgE) when applied topically. [2]

 

There are many chemicals in aloe vera that can improve skin afflicted by eczema:

  • Vitamins A, C, and E are present in aloe
  • Bradykinase can help decrease swelling
  • Important minerals are present such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and zinc
  • Alprogen is a protein that has anti-allergic effects
  • Emodin and Aloin reduce pain
  • Natural fatty acids which help with inflammation and swelling
  • Lupeol combats bacteria
  • Gibberellins and Auxins help heal wounds and prevent swelling
  • Saponins¬†can kill bacteria
  • Salicylic acid can help with swelling and kill bacteria
  • Mucopolysaccharides prevent skin dryness
  • Amino acids and Zinc help to make skin pores tighter [1]

 

As you can see, there are many benefits to using aloe vera for eczema.

 

How do I use Aloe Vera for eczema?

 

Aloe gel can be used on the skin by applying it on the affected area. You can chill it in the refrigerator prior to use, which can provide additional cooling and soothing effects. In general, you can apply aloe vera gel 3 times a day or more often as needed depending on how your child reacts to the soothing effects.

 

What kind of Aloe Vera Should I use for eczema?

 

Aloe gel is available over the counter and it is best to use gel for topical applications.

 

You can even get aloe from an aloe plant. Start by taking aloe vera leaves that you purchased or grew from your garden. Cut the leaves at the sides and gently peel them off. Take the gel you extracted from the leaves and use a blender to blend the gel into a liquid. At this point, the gel is ready to used and be applied topically to the area of irritation. Some people have recommended mix Vit C and Vit E as a preservative if you plan to store it for more than 1 week. [3]

 

Are there any side effects?

 

Topical application of aloe gel on skin is generally considered to be safe, but you should always do a small patch test on your child’s skin to see if he/she reacts to the gel. Also, people with known allergies to plants in the Liliaceae family should avoid using aloe vera.

 

 

Can I drink aloe juice while breastfeeding?

 

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should reconsider taking aloe vera as juice. It can cause contractions of the uterus for pregnant women and also gastrointestinal problems in the breastfed infant. [1]

However, topical use of aloe while pregnant or breastfeeding is generally considered to be safe unless you are allergic to aloe or any of the ingredients used in aloe gel.

Can aloe interact with medications?

 

Aloe Vera can interact with other medications and should also not be used in the following cases:

  • Aloe vera gel can cause the skin to absorb topical steroids if used on the skin, so avoid using them together.
  • Medications for heart failure like digitoxin and digoxin should not be taken with aloe vera since aloe is known to decrease potassium levels
  • Other diuretic medications should never be taken with aloe vera as it can lower potassium levels as well
  • Aloe vera can cause blood sugar to decrease so diabetic patients on medications that lower blood sugar should avoid aloe. [1]

 

This should not be an issue for eczema children as most, if not all, children will not be on these medications except maybe topical steroids. I still bring it up because aloe might be around in the house and there may be family members who are on these medications. Thus, it is important to be aware of the possible interactions aloe can have when taken with other medications.

 

All in all, the potential for side effects is more likely with oral consumption of aloe vera. Topical aloe does not have as much issues unless using it with topical steroids. Always talk to your doctor before you start using aloe vera. [1]

 

Can Aloe Vera make eczema worse?

 

In general, aloe is considered to be safe and should not make eczema worse. However, I always recommend doing a patch test before starting any new product because you never know and everyone’s skin is different. Apply a pea-sized amount of the product, in this case aloe gel, onto bare skin that is unaffected. Monitor for reactions for up to 48 hours. If there are no reactions, then it is considered safe to continue using the product. If there is a known allergy to plants from the Liliaceae family, then it is best to avoid aloe. And it is always advised to ask your physician before starting new medications, including over the counter (OTC) products.

 

Conclusion

 

I hope this article helps you answer the question, “Does aloe help eczema?” In general, aloe can be helpful for many skin conditions including eczema. There is more research being done. For example, a recent paper examined atopic dermatitis in rats and tested to see if aloe vera gel can help. [4] They found aloe vera can be helpful depending on the concentration. If you’re looking for an alternative medication, aloe vera is worth a try. Just make sure to do a patch test before using and consult with your child’s pediatrician if using for the first time on your child.

 

Read about how to stop eczema itching with natural non-pharmaceutical products.