Eczema, also called dermatitis, is a skin condition that causes patches of itchy, irritated skin. There are many types of eczema. Some cases are a response to an allergen or irritant, while others don’t have a clear cause. There’s no standard treatment for eczema, but a variety of prescription, over-the-counter, and natural treatments can help. People have used aloe vera for centuries to soothe irritated skin. It comes from the clear gel contained in aloe leaves. Even today, its anti-inflammatory properties make it a popular ingredient in over-the-counter skincare products. But can its soothing properties help with eczema? Read on to find out.

How does aloe vera affect eczema?

There aren’t many studies evaluating the use of aloe vera for eczema. But it’s known to have both antibacterial and antifungal effects. This, combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, could be particularly useful for people with eczema. Irritated, broken skin is more prone to bacterial and fungal infections. Aloe vera also contains polysaccharides, which may help to stimulate skin growth and healing. The plant may even have immune-boosting effects due to its natural antioxidant content. Many people find that aloe vera helps with other skin conditions, including: Eczema produces symptoms similar to many of these conditions, so aloe vera may help with eczema as well.

How do I use aloe vera for eczema?

To use aloe vera for eczema, first help your skin absorb as much as possible by cleaning the area first with mild soap and water. Liberally apply aloe vera gel to the affected area. Keep in mind that the gel can be sticky at first. Allow it to dry before getting dressed. You can reapply aloe vera twice a day for relief, though your doctor might recommend doing it more often.

What kind should I use?

While you can split open an aloe vera leaf and scoop out the gel, this isn’t very practical for daily use. You can find aloe vera gel in most drug stores. Try to look for a product that contains the highest concentration of pure aloe vera. For example, Natur-Sense makes a product containing 99.7 percent pure aloe vera. You can purchase it on Amazon. When looking at other aloe vera products, check to make sure that aloe vera is the first ingredient. Stay away from gels containing added fragrance or alcohol. Both can cause additional irritation.

Are there any side effects?

Aloe vera is generally safe, but it can cause mild burning and itching in some people. It isn’t uncommon to be allergic to aloe vera. So, if you want to try using aloe vera, apply some to a small area first as a patch test. Watch your skin for any signs of irritation or an allergic reaction over the next 24 hours. If you don’t notice any burning or itching, you can apply it to a larger area. Stop using aloe vera and call your doctor if you think your eczema is infected. Symptoms of infected eczema include:
  • pus
  • increased inflammation
  • pain
  • increased redness
  • hot to touch
Although aloe vera is also generally safe for use in children and infants, you might want to double check with your pediatrician first, just in case. You should also talk to a doctor first before taking oral forms of aloe, such as aloe latex. These oral forms are meant to treat gastrointestinal conditions, not skin conditions. Never give oral aloe vera to children.

The bottom line

It’s not clear whether aloe vera treats eczema, but anecdotal evidence and research about its healing properties suggest that it may provide relief. There’s also no evidence that it makes eczema worse, so it’s worth a try if you’re interested in it. Just make sure to do a patch test first to make sure you don’t have any kind of reaction. You should still avoid any known eczema triggers while using aloe vera.