Topical Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) acne treatment

Also known as Thioctic Acid, it occurs naturally in plants and animals. It functions as fat soluble as well as water soluble antioxidant that is why it is called “the universal antioxidant”. Being both water and oil soluble, ALA can access all parts of a living cell. Alpha Lipoic Acid has the ability to regenerate itself and other antioxidants like vitamin C and E so that they would be able to remove more free radicals from our bodies. ALA also increases the production of glutathione which is the most abundant natural antioxidant in the body.

II. How does topical Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) work on acne?

The primary use of alpha-lipoic acid in acne is the reduction and healing of acne scars. Alpha-Lipoic acid activates a certain activator protein which stimulates the production of enzyme that removes the damaged collagen in acne scars. Alpha lipoic acid also has a moderate anti-inflammatory effect which soothes skin irritation caused by acne. It is also reported to decrease the appearance of enlarged pores, decrease fine lines/wrinkles and the improvement of skin tone/skin texture.

“Alpha lipoic acid also helps aging cells increase their energy production. This enhances their ability to repair cellular damage and expel cellular waste products. Because of this action, alpha lipoic acid, as a 1% lotion, has been used as a skin treatment for aged skin”.
( Source:


Natural and have very few side effects.


Few peer reviewed studies. Most of the studies and patents involving the use and efficacy of topical alpha-lipoic acid has been published by Nicholas Perricone. Dr. Perricone’s work have been criticized as having questionable, unverifiable, and erroneous statements at “A Skeptical View of the Perricone Prescription by Harriet Hall, M.D. Stephen Barrett, M.D.” link:


A method for reducing and preventing acneiform scars and reducing pore size comprising topically applying to affected skin areas a composition containing lipoic acid or a lipoic acid derivative in a dermatologically acceptable carrier.
( Source: US Patent 6365623 Treatment of acne using lipoic acid, Nicholas V. Perricone)

Scar tissue is reduced or inhibited by application of a composition containing lipoic acid and/or a lipoic acid derivative such as dihydrolipoic acid, a lipoic or dihydrolipoic acid ester, a lipoic or dihydrolipoic acid amide, a lipoic or dihydrolipoic acid salt, and mixtures of any of these
( Source: United States Patent 5,965,618 Treatment of scar tissue using lipoic acid ,Nicholas V. Perricone)

Alpha-lipoic acid (LA) or the reduced form dihydrolipoate (DHLA) is a potent scavenger with anti-inflammatory properties. Previous uncontrolled studies with topical treatment with 5% LA-containing creams indicate a beneficial effect on photoageing skin.It is indicated that 12 weeks of treatment with a cream containing 5% LA improves clinical characteristics related to photoageing of facial skin.
( Source: Beitner H. Randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind study on the clinical efficacy of a cream containing 5% alpha-lipoic acid related to photoageing of facial skin. British Journal of Dermatology 149:841-849, 2003.)

III. Forms, Dosage and Administration

Topical creams, lotions and gel.

IV. Precautions

None reported

V. Side Effects

No adverse side effects reported

Brand Names

N.V. Perricone, M.D. Cosmeceuticals®


Sorg O, Antille C, Saurat JH. Retinoids, other topical vitamins, and antioxidants. Photoaging. Marcel Dekker, 2004: 89-115.

Chiu A, Kimball AB. Topical vitamins, minerals and botanical ingredients as modulators of environmental and chronological skin damage. Br J Dermatol 2003; 149(4): 681-691.

Lupo MP. Antioxidants and vitamins in cosmetics. Clinics in Dermatology 2001; 19:467-473.

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