Have you ever had a pimple?
If so, you know how frustrating it can be.
Pimples are usually caused by bacteria, but sometimes they’re caused by an excess of oil on the skin. Either way, if you want to get rid of pimples for good, then you need to keep your skin hydrated and clean.
One of the best ways to do this is with vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that can help fight off bacteria and reduce inflammation in your skin. It also helps repair damaged cells so that they can heal properly.
Vitamin A comes in many different forms including retinol, retinyl palmitate, and retinoic acid (RA).
Vitamin A For Pimples
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient found in orange and yellow fruits and vegetables as well as other nutrient-dense food sources, like leafy greens.
As an antioxidant, vitamin A can help promote better skin and overall health by fighting free radicals.
Vitamin A may also help ward off inflammation, an underlying factor in acne vulgaris.
When it comes to treating acne with vitamin A, topical formulas show the most promise. These products are also called retinols or retinoids.
Don’t take vitamin A supplements to treat acne without checking with your doctor first, though. They can make sure the supplements won’t interfere with any other medications or supplements you may already be taking.
Benefits of vitamin A for acne
Vitamin A is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are known for preventing free radicals that can lead to cell damage. This may help decrease skin aging.
Vitamin A may also help treat acne, but it all depends on the source and how you use it. Eating vitamin A-rich foods can promote better skin health from the inside out, while topical formulas may target acne directly.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), retinol (retinoid), a topical form of vitamin A, can help treat and prevent inflammatory acne lesions.
In fact, the organization recommends using topical retinoids to treat several types of acne.
Retinol may help improve acne by:
- decreasing inflammation
- increasing skin cell growth to heal lesions and scars
- possibly decreasing sebum (oil) production
- smoothing skin
- evening skin tone
- protecting against environmental damage
Retinoids may also work well with antibiotics as needed for clearing up severe acne breakouts.
What does the research say?
There’s a lot of research backing up the use of topical vitamin A for acne. But research on oral vitamin A for acne has been mixed.
Older researchTrusted Source couldn’t support oral vitamin A as an effective acne treatment, but researchers did say it could possibly prevent acne vulgaris from getting worse.
More recent researchTrusted Source concluded oral vitamin A is effective at treating acne, but the study was small and of low quality.
Overall, vitamin A as an acne treatment is most promising as a topical treatment only.
While it’s important to get enough vitamin A in your diet, this isn’t the best acne treatment solution. Taking too much can harm your health.
How much should you get daily?
Vitamin A content on foods and supplements is listed in international units (IU). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states the daily value of vitamin A for people ages 4 and up is 5,000 IU.
You shouldn’t take more vitamin A just for the sake of treating acne. This could lead to severe health consequences, like liver damage.
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Food sources of vitamin A
Vitamin A is an antioxidant, which may help fight inflammation and free radicals in your skin — all which may contribute to acne.
Most people can get enough vitamin A through diet alone. The following foods are rich in vitamin A:
- orange and yellow vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes
- green leafy vegetables
- beef liver
Overall, though, the AAD says there’s no specific diet proven to treat acne. The only exceptions are to avoid sugar and dairy, which could possibly aggravate breakouts in people who are already prone to acne.
Getting enough vitamin A in your diet can help promote overall skin health, but it’s not likely to treat acne alone. Instead, focus on a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables for healthier skin.
Vitamin A supplements
Vitamin A supplements may help improve your overall immune system and your skin health. However, consider taking supplements only if you don’t already get enough vitamin A through diet alone, or if you don’t already take a multivitamin.
Too much vitamin A can lead to adverse health effects, including liver damage. Birth defects are also possible if you take excessive amounts of vitamin A while pregnant.
Side effects from too much vitamin A in supplement form can include:
It’s important to note that these side effects are linked to supplemental forms of vitamin A only. Excessive amounts of beta carotene found in vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables won’t cause life-threatening side effects.
Also keep in mind that the FDA doesn’t monitor the purity or quality of supplements. It’s important to talk with your doctor before you begin taking any to weigh the benefits and risks for you.
Using a topical vitamin A product
Despite the potential antioxidant benefits of vitamin A, topical formulas show the most promise for acne treatment. These can come in the form of creams and serums.
A 2012 reviewTrusted Source found concentrations as low as 0.25 percent may provide benefits without side effects. If your dermatologist thinks you’d benefit from a higher concentration, they might order a prescription-strength cream.
When you first start using topical vitamin A, it’s important to begin gradually so your skin gets used to the product. This could mean using it every other day at first before you eventually use it every single day.
Beginning gradually can also reduce the risk of side effects, such as redness and peeling.
Retinoids can also increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Be sure to wear sunscreen every single day to prevent sun damage.
Vitamin A is just one potential treatment for acne. Your dermatologist can help you decide what treatment measures are best depending on the severity and history of your skin health.
Good skin care practices can also go a long way for acne-prone skin. In addition to eating a nutritious diet and using topical products, getting enough sleep, water, and exercise can also promote better skin health.
vitamin d for acne
Researchers are establishing a firmer link between vitamin D levels and acne. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone that’s found in fatty fish, dairy, and fortified food products. Vitamin D is also called “the sunshine vitamin” because you can get vitamin D from exposure to sunshine.
Acne (clinically known as acne vulgaris) is a skin condition where your pores become blocked or clogged, causing red bumps or blackheads to form on your skin. Acne can be caused by changes in hormone levels, bacteria, oils, and more. If you have acne, a vitamin D deficiency may be part of what’s causing symptoms or making them worse.
Is vitamin D deficiency a risk factor for acne?
In 2006Trusted Source, researchers estimated that over 41 percent of the U.S. population was deficient in the hormone called vitamin D. Vitamin D is not listed as an official risk factor for acne, according to the Mayo Clinic. But researchersTrusted Source are starting to explore how vitamin D regulates the immune system. This immune system link might explain the relationship between vitamin D levels and skin health.
In a 2014 studyTrusted Source, people who had nodulocystic acne were at risk for more severe symptoms if they had low levels of vitamin D. In another studyTrusted Source, people with acne experienced significantly improved symptoms when they took oral vitamin D supplements.
Benefits of using vitamin D for acne
Vitamin D has antimicrobial properties. If the acne you have is caused by bacterial overgrowth, using topical vitamin D might calm your symptoms. More studies are needed to confirm how this could work.
Vitamin D also has an anti-inflammatory property. Having adequate levels of vitamin D in your system may help addressTrusted Source the inflammatory symptoms of acne. Taking vitamin D supplements could also be an alternative way of treating recurrent acne that appears red and inflamed.
How to use vitamin D for acne
If you’re deficient in vitamin D, sitting out in the sun won’t fix your acne. Doctors agree that prolonged exposure to sunshine is not the best way to get vitamin D. Exposure to the sun without using a protective sunscreen can put you at risk for skin cancer. Taking dietary supplements and consuming foods rich in vitamin D are the best ways to increase your vitamin D levels to help treat acne.
There are few foods naturally rich in vitamin D. Dairy products, like milk and cheese, are a great source of the vitamin, but have been found in some studiesTrusted Source to make acne symptoms worse. If you’re lactose intolerant, you may already be considering taking a vitamin D supplement. People who don’t consume milk regularly are at a higher riskTrusted Source of being deficient in vitamin D.
If you do use a vitamin D oral supplement, keep an eye on the dosage. Make sure that other supplements you’re taking, such as a calcium supplement or prenatal vitamin, aren’t putting you over the recommended amount of 100 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D per day. And since vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it can build up in your system. Vitamin D supplements are best taken with a meal.
Topical application of vitamin D3 has been foundTrusted Source to be an efficient way to get vitamin D levels up with fewer side effects than oral supplements, but more research is needed.
Potential side effects and risks
Taking too much vitamin D can result in serious side effects. The National Institute of Health (NIH) has set a limit of 100 mcg per day Trusted Source of vitamin D for men and women who are not pregnant or nursing.
The most common side effect of vitamin D toxicity is a buildup of calcium in your blood, called hypercalcemia. Hypercalcelmia can cause nausea and vomiting. Taking too much vitamin D over time can result in heart arrhythmias, tissue calcification, kidney stones, and organ damage.
Vitamin D levels can also be decreased when taking corticosteroid medication.
If you have recurrent acne that hasn’t resolved with other kinds of treatment, you may have a vitamin D deficiency. Speak to your doctor or dermatologist about having your blood tested for vitamin D levels. Since vitamin D deficiency can put you at risk for other health conditions, finding out if you are one of the 4 in 10 Americans living with vitamin D deficiency could be an important step to taking care of your body.