Acne Scars & Aloe
It would be wonderful if pimples disappeared without a trace. However, these blemishes---blackheads, whiteheads, papules and pustules---usually leave behind scars, which vary in size, depth and duration. You may notice some herbal products being marketed to speed the healing of scars. One such herb is aloe vera. But, can it really improve acne scars?
Acne Scarring Basics
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, scars are a natural part of the healing process as your skin tries to repair wounds. Left untreated, scars can last for up to 18 months.
Acne scars develop as a result of comedones, which form when oil, bacteria and dead skin cells clog up hair follicles. The plugged follicles become targets for Propionibacterium acnes, an organism that's the main cause of inflammatory acne lesions, explains the American Association of Family Physicians.
When plugged follicles become inflamed and swollen, they can burst above or below the skin causing scars to develop. In the case of more severe nodular acne the scars may cause deep pits in your skin.
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is a shrub native to the Mediterranean region, Asia and Africa. Its name comes from the word "Alloeh," which means "shining bitter substance" in Arabic. For centuries people in different cultures around the world have used aloe vera as a remedy for a wide range of health and skin care problems such as wounds, skin infections and burns.
Aloe and Wound Healing
Although you can take aloe internally, you'll most likely apply it topically to treat skin conditions. It has several properties that allow it to heal skin, according to research published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology.
Aloe contains enzymes called Bradykinase, which reduce inflammation when applied to skin. Its other anti-inflammatory properties come from its fatty acid and salicylic acid content. This healing plant also contains lignin---a substance that can increase the penetrative ability of a topical treatment. Aloe also contains glucomannan, a hormone that may speed up collagen synthesis, which plays a key role in healing scars and wounds.
Results Are Mixed
Considering aloe vera's skin-healing nutrient content and its long-term use across various cultures for skin conditions and wound healing, it may be useful for acne scars. However, the University of Maryland Medical Center points out that studies of aloe on skin healing have produced mixed results so far.
Some people may suffer allergic reactions to the anthraquinones in aloe and experience redness, burning or a stinging sensation. To be on the safe side, test it on a small area of skin and watch for any adverse reactions.
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