Does lauric acid help treat acne?

Lauric acid could be used to help treat acne. Keep reading and learn more about this compound present in coconut.

Last update: May 14, 2022

Both in cooking and as a cosmetic, the various uses and applications of coconut oil are well known. But not everyone knows that one of its main active ingredients, lauric acid, is also used to treat acne.

So, in addition to providing benefits as a skin moisturizer and hair care, coconut oil can contribute to the treatment of skin conditions. But this is not the only source of said fatty acid, since the ingredient can also be obtained from palm oil and ordinary cow’s milk.

What is lauric acid and where is it obtained?

Also Known As dodecanoic (because of the number of carbons in its formula), and more commonly as lauric, this is a medium length saturated fatty acid. It is of natural origin and is present in the tissues of the human body in solid and insoluble form.

It is also found in various foods, both animal and vegetable, that contain saturated fats. Among the most common sources we have the following:

  • Coconut oil: It is one of the richest, with an estimated 40% lauric acid content.
  • Palm kernel oil: extracted from the palm kernel Elaeis guineensis. Their proportion is much higher, close to 80%.
  • Cow or goat milk: they contain an approximate of 0.25 grams per cup; 3% of total milk fat is lauric acid.


Applications and benefits of lauric acid

Coconut oil has a wide variety of uses, ranging from culinary to cosmetic applications. On the other hand, it is considered that the properties of lauric acid are diverse that make it effective for diseases. Let’s see.

Coconut oil is a product that is increasingly in demand in the cosmetics industry, in part because of its lauric acid content.

food preservation

Due to its stability and the fact that it is insoluble in water, this saturated fat is added to food products, helping to preserve them. However, when it is refined it loses some of its properties.

cosmetic uses

It is claimed that this acid has moisturizing properties, Therefore, it is used to combat dry skin, improving the function of the lipid barrier and helping to combat xerosis.

It is also a common ingredient in creams and other products. antiage, to reduce or minimize the traces left by the passage of time. According to a 2013 study, just adding a little virgin coconut oil to lotion used on the skin improves hydration as well as elasticity.

skin conditions

Coconut oil is also used to treat conditions such as psoriasis, thanks to its moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties. In this sense, helps control the symptoms of this pathology.

antimicrobial activity

According to the results of various investigations, lauric acid he has shown to have the ability to inhibit the development of pathogenic organisms. Therefore, it can help in the treatment and prevention of various infections, including colds and flu.

And it is that when we ingest it, it becomes monolaurin, a compound with broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity that eliminates up to Staphylococcus aureus under laboratory conditions.

Other benefits

The use of this fatty acid has been associated with other benefits. According to research, the inhabitants of Polynesia, whose main source of calories are coconuts, are longer and healthier, with low rates of obesity and diabetes.

Also it is suggested that it could help you lose weight more easily and would be a protective factor against Alzheimer’s disease. Although many of its applications are still under study.



Lauric acid for acne: how to use it?

It is estimated that there are several factors that contribute to the appearance or development of acne. Among these are the excessive production of sebum, the pores obstructed by said fat, as well as by dead cells, the presence of bacteria (Cutybacterium acnes) and inflammation.

Now, taking into account the aforementioned antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, lauric acid could be used to treat acne effectively. This is confirmed by the results of various investigations..

For example, a 2009 study found that this fatty acid reduced both inflammation and the number of bacteria present on the skin. Likewise, another investigation carried out in 2016 confirmed these properties.

However, should not be applied directly. It is advisable to acquire and use a product that contains the compound, among others. In the case of skin hydration problems or psoriasis, the risks are lower, so it can be used more freely.

For greater safety, a dermatologist should be consulted. This skin health professional can prescribe the right dose for the person.

There is no estimate of what the exact amount may be.

Similarly, there is the option of incorporating ingredients such as coconut oil into the diet. So you can take advantage of the benefits of lauric acid not only for acne or skin. Of course this also depends on the person’s age and lifestyle.

Acne cannot be treated with a single substance. Medical consultation will determine the most effective combined approach.

Possible side effects and contraindications

First of all, it should be noted that lauric acid is a substance that can be irritatingso it should not be ingested on its own, but in the form of coconut oil or in fresh coconuts.

However, there is not much data on the effects it can generate. It is advisable to do a patch test if it is to be used topically. If there are no reactions, then it can be used sparingly.

For its part, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted monolaurin the status of a generally safe compound, although without specifying dosage guidelines.

Even so, people with sensitive skin should use with caution. Also, those who are allergic to lauric acid, coconut or palm oil or any of its components should refrain.

Finally, it is worth remembering that there are some contraindications of coconut oil. In this sense, its consumption is discouraged in the case of people with high cholesterol, hypertension or with a propensity for indigestion.

Check with your doctor

Despite all the studies in favor it has not been clarified if lauric acid acts on its own or if these benefits are the result of the combined action of all the other components present.

Now, if you consider that it is a good option to include coconut or palm oil in the diet for acne, remember that you must take into account the amount of total fat that you ingest. And whether for consumption or for topical use, the first thing is to consult a dermatologist.

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