Hypochlorous Acid For Cystic Acne

Hypochlorous Acid For Cystic Acne

Hypochlorous acid is a weak acid that effectively combats viruses, bacteria, and fungi. This is why hypochlorous acid is used as an ingredient in most household cleaning products and pool disinfectants. The human body naturally produces hypochlorous acid, which is used in fighting off infections. 

In addition to its bacterial fighting capabilities, hypochlorous acid is also effective in relieving itchy skin. Due to its extensive medicinal properties, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of hypochlorous acid products for cleaning wounds during surgery and relieving the itch and pain caused by rash and broken skin. 



Since acne flare-ups are caused by bacteria and often accompanied by itching, it is safe to say that hypochlorous acid can be used to treat cystic acid. Although no research has declared hypochlorous acid as a useful and risk-free acne treatment, there is evidence that its medicinal properties cause cautious optimism.

What is Cystic Acne?

Cystic acne is a variant of inflammatory acne that manifests as painful, unsightly, pus-filled bumps that form under the skin. Cystic acne allows bacteria to infect surrounding pores, which causes inflammation or swelling. Cystic acne is classified as the most severe form of acne as it is extremely painful and causes severe scarring. 

Cystic acne usually develops due to accumulated dead skin cells and excess sebum. The production of excess sebum often clogs skin pores triggering swelling in the dermis, which often manifests as red, swollen, infected bumps. 

Some of the main causes of cystic acne include:

  • Hormonal changes experienced during puberty, menopause and the onset of stress
  • Genetic history
  • Age (cystic acne is more significant in teenagers)

How Can Hypochlorous Acid Help With Cystic Acne?

Research on the functional properties of hypochlorous acid suggests that it can be effective in treating cystic acne because of its ability to:

  • Speed Up Healing of Acne Lesions: Hypochlorous acid promotes the healing of small wounds such as acne lesions by the bacteria that backtracks the healing process
  • Kill Acne Bacteria: Hypochlorous acid can kill propionibacterium acnes (acne-causing bacteria) and cutibacterium acnes, the bacteria that worsen acne breakouts
  • Relieve Itching: Some hypochlorous acid products have proven to relieve itching - a common symptom of cystic acne
  • Help Heal Acne Scars: Using hypochlorous acid can help heal raised scars, even those that occur after acne lesions have healed

Keep in mind that researchers are yet to test hypochlorous acid on acne patients, but typically, its medical properties make it a promising candidate for treating cystic acne. 

What Evidence Points to Hypochlorous Acid's Acne Bacteria Killing Ability?

Doctors and scientists have long known about hypochlorous acid's powerful antibacterial properties. They also know that the body naturally produces hypochlorous acid for the sole purpose of fighting off bacteria. When pathogenic bacteria invade the body, certain immune system cells respond to this by producing hypochlorous acid enough to kill over a million bacterial strains in minutes. 

A 2018 research where scientists compared hypochlorous acid's bacterial killing ability against antiseptics like rubbing alcohol revealed that it is as good as, if not better than, most antiseptics at killing acne bacteria. They also uncovered that it works faster, making using hypochlorous acid topical products such as PurClarity's Revitalizing Mist can help eliminate and prevent cystic breakouts. Hypochlorous acid is a potential alternative to most topical antibiotics dermatologists prescribe for cystic acne. 

The only downside to using antibiotics to treat cystic acne is that bacteria become resistant to them with time, making them ineffective in treating severe infections. Bacteria can not, however, develop resistance to hypochlorous acid's bacteria-killing properties making it a potential alternative treatment for cystic breakouts.

How Does Hypochlorous Acid Help Speed Up the Healing of Acne Lesions?

Even though hypochlorous acid hasn't been actively used in healing acne lesions, scientists have uncovered its ability to speed up healing of other kinds of wounds. The bad thing about using traditional methods in healing wounds is that bacteria often gets in the way, producing bacterial biofilms. Bacterial biofilms are thin sheets of bacteria enclosed in a protective layer of complex proteins and sugars that act as a fortress allowing them to grow and making them resistant to antibiotics.

Studies reveal that acne-causing bacteria also form biofilms, which is why using antibiotics treatments isn't the best option for acne lesions. A case study published in 2012 tested the effect of hypochlorous acid on 5 patients with chronic wounds to determine whether it can penetrate bacterial biofilms and help wounds heal faster. The researchers studied a variety of common types of bacteria and concluded that hypochlorous acid speeds up the healing of wounds as it can effectively disrupt bacterial biofilms. 

How Can Hypochlorous Acid Help Heal Acne Scars? 

When acne lesions heal, they leave behind unsightly scars, especially in the case of chronic breakouts. Although most acne scars are indented, they can occasionally form raised scars. Raised scars are more severe and prominent, making them particularly difficult to treat, but research on the effects of hypochlorous acid suggests that it can help heal this type of scarring. 

Another study tested the ability of hypochlorous acid to heal raised scars where researchers randomly applied either silicone gel or hypochlorous acid to scars on 54 individuals 3 times a day for 8 weeks. The studies revealed that hypochlorous acid was much more effective at relieving the pain, itching and forming of the scars than silicone gel. 

A 2020 article written by a panel of dermatology and plastic surgery experts revealed that hypochlorous acid could potentially become the best option for reducing the scars caused by surgical procedures. While more research is required to determine the benefits of hypochlorous acid in healing scars, the panel of experts agree that, according to their research, a hypochlorous acid is an effective tool in minimizing raised scars. 

How Does Hypochlorous Acid Help in Relieving Itching Caused by Acne

Research on hypochlorous acid's ability to relieve itching caused by rashes in humans and animals uncovered that it is highly effective. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved hypochlorous acid as a remedy for itching.

Acne lesions are often accompanied by mild-to-moderate itching. According to a scientific study, over 75% of teens use medical preparations and home remedies to reduce the itching effects of cystic breakouts

Itching in acne cases is extremely challenging, and in addition to being unpleasant, it can lead to scratching, which causes increased irritation of the affected area. This irritation will then worsen acne, instigating a vicious cycle of more scratching and itching and eventually making the breakouts even more severe. 

Although hypochlorous acid has been proven to relieve itching in various skin conditions, there is no scientific study of its use in itching caused by acne. Researchers are yet to test its effectiveness on this topic. 

It is crucial to understand that even though hypochlorous acid can relieve itching when used in certain concentrations, it can potentially cause allergic reactions instead of relieving itching when used in higher concentrations. Before using any hypochlorous acid products on acne lesions to relieve itching, it is important to seek professional intervention. 

Consult Your Dermatologist on Whether to Incorporate Hypochlorous Acid Products into Your Skincare Routine

Hypochlorous acid shows promise in treating cystic acne due to its ability to effectively combat bacteria, speed up the healing of acne lesions, and reduce itching in common skin conditions. Nevertheless, until more research on the relation between hypochlorous acid and cystic acne is determined, it is important to consult dermatology experts on how or whether to use hypochlorous acid products as an acne remedy.