Background: Aloe vera has been used to treat wounds since ancient times. However, data regarding the efficacy of aloe vera for burns and split-thickness skin graft donor sites are inconclusive.
Methods: A double-blind, randomized, controlled trial was conducted. Patients who underwent split-thickness skin graft harvesting from the thigh were included. Split-thickness skin graft donor sites were divided into two groups: the aloe vera group and the placebo group. The visual analogue scale score was used to evaluate pain, and complete epithelialization was assessed. The authors searched electronic databases and included only international clinical trials published in the English language.
Results: Twelve patients with 24 donor sites participated. Times to complete epithelization for the aloe vera and placebo groups were 11.5 ± 1.45 and 13.67 ± 1.61 days, respectively (p < 0.05). Visual analogue scale scores after wound dressing for the aloe vera and placebo groups were 17.18 ± 13.17 and 18.63 ± 11.20, respectively. No statistical significance was found between groups. Five articles met the inclusion criteria: four involved burns and one involved split-thickness skin graft donor sites. Three studies of burn wounds demonstrated improved epithelization and one did not. The split-thickness skin graft donor-site study indicated that wound healing time for the control group was significantly different from that of the aloe vera and placebo groups. The healing rate was not statistically different between groups.
Conclusion: Topical aloe vera gel significantly demonstrated accelerated split-thickness skin graft donor-site healing but did not show significant pain relief.
Clinical question/level of evidence: Therapeutic, I.