Aloe Vera has been used to soothe sore or burnt skin for decades, with many charities and health professionals recommending it to help calm down sensitive and sore skin after radiotherapy. But is it actually effective?
Well, the research is inconclusive! While one study concludes that “A. vera gel was effective in fast recovery of high-grade RID without any adverse reaction”, and another says that they’ve “demonstrated a protective effect of Aloe vera lotion against radiation-induced dermatitis”, other studies suggest that not only is aloe ineffective, but might actually be damaging to skin.
The problem is that the research studies use different preparations on different people and in different circumstances. Aloe vera gel applied directly to one kind of radiation burn will have different effects to dehydrated aloe vera powder used in a cream on more or less severe burns, so it’s hard to make a definitive statement about whether any one individual should use aloe vera on their own skin.
The best thing to do is ask your medical caregiver what they suggest in your own particular case, and take their advice into consideration; experienced nurses may recommend aloe vera for some patients but not others. Whichever moisturiser you use to look after sensitive skin during and after radiotherapy, be sure to patch test first before widespread use, and notice if there's any worsening of symptoms.
Balmonds have neutral, unscented moisturisers that are suitable for sensitive, dry and itchy skin, one of which (Cooling Cream) uses aloe vera. See our blog Looking For An Over-the-Counter Radiation Burn Cream That Does Not Sting? for key points in choosing a good moisturiser, and How To Look After Your Skin Before, During And After Radio- and Chemotherapy for a more detailed guide to looking after your skin during both radio- and chemotherapy.
Recommended products for looking after skin during radiotherapy:
Daily Moisturising Cream with calendula, shea and hemp seed oil, from £13.99 for 100ml
Intensive Hand Cream with seabuckthorn, calendula, chamomile and shea, from £10.99 for 50ml
Cooling Cream with menthol, aloe, lavender and calendula, £19 for 100ml
Skin Salvation with hemp seed, beeswax & calendula, from £7.99 for 30ml
Balmonds Rosehip Scar Oil with rosehip, lavender, calendula & chamomile, £18.99 for 50ml
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.