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Hyaluronic Acid, Skin Health, and Acne: What You Should Know

By The Nava Team

August 19, 2021

As we age, it’s common for environmental and natural factors to diminish the quality of our skin. Hormone changes can lead to acne and blemishes; poor habits can result in dryness and flaking; the list goes on as anyone in their 40’s and 50’s can attest.

Great skin health requires a little maintenance and assistance.

While a healthy skincare routine is advantageous, is it all that’s necessary? Hyaluronic acid is one of the body's premier moisturizers, but is it enough to prevent acne, or better yet, treat it? Should I use hyaluronic acid for acne? Your body is a complex mechanism that requires care, and sometimes natural defenses like HA aren’t enough to prevent damage, especially to the skin. To understand the limits of hyaluronic acid, it’s necessary to understand what it is and how it works. 

What Is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid is a natural, endogenous glucose-based substance in the body. It’s primarily responsible for maintaining healthy moisture levels throughout various organs and systems, like the eyes and joints.

Recently, HA has been tied to aging, skin, and the appearance of wrinkles, too. There is some discussion about the efficacy of HA supplements in helping to combat the natural decline of skin moisture and health that occurs because of intrinsic and extrinsic influences on the skin.

Intrinsic factors are the natural aging process, largely unavoidable for anyone who's... living. 

Extrinsic factors include those things you encounter that impact your skin health from the outside: UV rays, smoke, pollutants, etc.

While the FDA has approved HA treatments for patients with knee osteoarthritis and cataracts, people also use the substance to treat a litany of conditions, including:

  • Acid reflux
  • UTIs
  • Dry eyes
  • Joint disorders
  • Vaginal pain
  • Aging

It’s natural for the production of HA to decline as we age, and according to some research, supplementation can help curb the consequences of deficiency, but to what extent is still unknown. For now, medical professionals and cosmetics companies understand the value of the substance, and it has become a staple in many over-the-counter skincare products and prescriptions because of its moisturizing capabilities.

How Does HA work?

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant — a substance necessary for the retention of moisture. The human body naturally produces hyaluronic acid to maintain moisture in areas like the joints and skin. Unfortunately, HA is susceptible to outside influences like smoke, pollution, and UV rays.

Naturally, the human body's production of hyaluronic acid decreases as a person ages; this loss is unavoidable. The loss of HA also results in a lack of moisture in the skin, which in turn can lead to wrinkles, reduced elasticity, and waning suppleness.

Environmentally, people can accelerate the loss of this beneficial acid by subjecting themselves to an unhealthy lifestyle. Habits like smoking contribute to dehydration of the skin, which in turn counteract the work of HA.

Additionally, adequate HA production promotes healing. When the body is deprived of the moisturizing effects of HA, it’s more prone to scarring and irritation.

While the FDA has approved hyaluronic acid for the treatment of specific conditions, medical professionals and the beauty industry claim there are many benefits beyond the current federal applications, which might lead to questions like, "should I use hyaluronic acid for acne?" Cosmetologists and dermatologists agree that using HA can be beneficial for the right patients and conditions, but determining when and how to use it is not quite as clear.

Should I Use Hyaluronic Acid for Acne?

Acne is an inflammatory condition. Hyaluronic acid is a moisturizer, primarily, but it does possess some anti-inflammatory properties. Does that make it an effective treatment for acne?

Surprisingly, it may be.

Let’s be clear: hyaluronic acid alone is probably not sufficient to treat acne, but it can help combat some of the symptoms. HA helps to ensure adequate moisture content in the skin, which can limit the body's overproduction of skin oil. Additionally, HA reduces inflammation, possibly helping to reduce the severity of acne symptoms. HA can also reduce the appearance of acne and scarring. Finally, hyaluronic acid helps promote quicker healing of wounds, which is where acne lesions come from.

Finding an Acne Treatment Plan That Works

While hyaluronic acid can help relieve some acne symptoms, you need an actionable treatment plan, including medications selected specifically for your form of acne, for best results. 

Therapies come in all varieties, from over-the-counter to prescription topical treatments, to oral medications. A dermatologist can help you identify your skin type, skin condition, and sensitivities to ensure you find a plan that works well for your situation.

When it comes to treatment options, OTC products – while popular because of availability and affordability – are probably effective only for mild forms of acne. When you’re experiencing moderate to severe acne, you may need a prescription-strength product.

Acne prescriptions come in topical and oral forms. Topical varieties, which include benzoyl peroxide and retinoids, provide support with efficacy in a majority of patients who try them. Oral options include antibacterials and sometimes hormonal therapies, most of which have been tested and approved by the FDA for their intended conditions. 

Retinoids have become a go-to in the skincare industry, and while OTC formulations that include retinol and retinal are commonplace, most dermatologists agree that a prescription-strength retinoid like tretinoin is the best place to start for most patients. That's because it's the most accessible form for our skin, and it works directly on retinoic acid receptors.

Retinoids are powerful players in the skincare world because they accelerate the skin cell turnover process. They bring new, fresh cells to the surface faster, and they help healing get underway quicker. They can even fine lines and help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles – they’re the swiss army knives of skin care. 

While hyaluronic acid is a helpful and natural substance, there’s been limited research to conclude its effectiveness as an acne treatment on its own. One thing is clear when it comes to hyaluronic acid; however, this substance may have a place for some people dealing with acne.

The severity of your acne and specific type of acne are unique to you and your biology: a licensed professional can provide the best insights into your condition.

Telehealth and Accessible Medicine

Getting professional help is easier than ever. Patients worried about acne or skin health have far more options today than they once did. At Nava MD, we believe in accessibility, which is why we launched a platform to streamline the patient-doctor relationship – and get acne-sufferers the right treatments at the right price.

Gone are the days of waiting weeks for a dermatology visit. Nava MD has made prescription skincare easier than ever, with consultations done online and personalized formulations delivered to your door, if approved. You maintain access to your prescribing clinician at any time through our Member Portal, and we use only tried-and-true ingredients in our custom formulas, like HA, niacinamide, and tretinoin, among others. 

Get started with a consultation of your own today by clicking here.


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Disclaimer : This article is not intended as medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions. Dial 911 in case of a medical emergency.