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Hypochlorous Acid: Is It Just a Trend? 

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As someone who practices dermatology, it can often be difficult to determine if any of these new skin care trends are efficacious.

New Africa/AdobeStock

New Africa/AdobeStock

While late-night browsing through TikTok videos, I can’t help but notice all the different skin care trends that seem to capture the hearts and minds of patients looking for options to treat their various skin ailments. Whether it be a new Korean sunscreen or a French retinol cream, it seems like there is always something new out there to consider. Even as someone who practices dermatology, it can often be difficult to determine if any of these types of products hold water. However, a notable one of recent that caught my eye was hypochlorous acid. 

What is Hypochlorous Acid? 

Hypochlorous acid is an antimicrobial acid made of hydrogen, oxygen, and chlorine found naturally in the human body. The production of hypochlorous acid in the body is stimulated by the white blood cells to fight off bacteria and infection in the skin. In the last few years, this notorious acid made its way to the headlines as a lethal cleaning agent in fighting off the COVID-19 virus. With its anti-inflammatory properties, it’s no wonder that this ingredient has recently found its way into the conversation of acne-prone and other forms of skin care. 

The question is, how is an acid powerful enough to serve as a cleaning reagent also gentle enough to be used as a skin care ingredient? The answer to this question lies in the origin of its production. Because hypochlorous acid is a natural byproduct of our body’s immune system, it is actually tolerated very well by sensitive skin types. 

What are the Benefits of Hypochlorous Acid? 

When it comes to treating acne, one of the key mechanisms to address is fighting off bacteria on the skin that can clog the pores and cause acne flares. As an antimicrobial, hypochlorous acid works effectively to kill off bacteria, speed up wound healing, and repair damage on the skin. 

However, the benefits of hypochlorous acid are not just limited to the treatment of acne. Through its ability to combat inflammation on the skin, it is also a valuable ingredient in the treatment of other dermatological conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and other dermatoses. Additionally, hypochlorous acid can help with itch reduction as well as treating flaking and redness on the skin. 

Where Does Hypochlorous Acid Fit Into Skin Care for Patients? 

Hypochlorous acid is typically formulated as a spray. The best part about facial sprays is their ability to quickly absorb into the skin and also their convenience for on-the-go use. One of my favorite ways to incorporate hypochlorous acid into a skin care routine is as a facial mist right after a workout. What better way to kill off any potential bacteria on the skin after sweating your face off at a hot yoga session? Its lightweight formula also works well as a facial spray directly after washing your face before applying other topical serums or creams. 

What are the Adverse Effects of Hypochlorous Acid? 

As with any product, even ones intended for sensitive skin types, hypochlorous acid may cause irritation, redness, itching, or dryness when applied to the skin. I always advocate for cautious use when incorporating new products into a routine, to start low and slow. Typically, I recommend starting a new product once or twice a week and gradually increasing its use as tolerated. 

What is the Key Takeaway?

Hypochlorous acid appears to be a valuable ingredient in the treatment and prevention of various dermatological conditions such as acne and certain inflammatory disorders. I wouldn’t be surprised if it became more integral in how we as providers address these types of conditions. 

With hypochlorous acid, formulation is key. I always advise patients to pay attention to ingredients in their products such as alcohol or other skin irritants. Typically, hypochlorous acid is formulated with only water and sodium chloride. As with most approaches, sometimes simpler is better! 

Hailey Brickman, PA-C, is a board-certified dermatology physician assistant practicing at The Dermatology Specialists in New York, NY. 

References

  1. What is hypochlorous acid? And why should you use it? Cleveland Clinic. August 2, 2021. Accessed March 1, 2024. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/hypochlorous-acid-skin-care 
  2. Lenzi M. Why you should add hypochlorous acid to your skin care routine, according to derms. Real Simple. February 20, 2024. Accessed March 1, 2024. https://www.realsimple.com/hypochlorous-acid-8547964 

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