Alpha hydroxy acids: procedures for use in clinical practice

Cutis. 1989 Mar;43(3):222-8.


Alpha hydroxy acids and alpha keto acids applied topically in lower concentrations reduce the thickness of hyperkeratotic stratum corneum by reducing corneocyte cohesion at lower levels of the stratum corneum. This property permits efficient clinical control of dry skin, ichthyosis, follicular hyperkeratosis, and other conditions characterized by retention of stratum corneum. Applied topically in higher concentrations, these acids cause epidermolysis. This property provides a new alternative for treating seborrheic keratoses, keratoses commonly known as "age spots," actinic keratoses, and verrucae vulgares; all of which lesions involve distinct epidermal hyperplasia as well as retention of stratum corneum. Facial wrinkles can be modified with topical alpha hydroxy acids, applied in higher concentrations as office procedures, and concomitant daily home application of lower concentrations.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy
  • Administration, Topical
  • Glycolates / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Ichthyosis / drug therapy
  • Keratosis / drug therapy
  • Lactates / administration & dosage*
  • Lactic Acid
  • Pyruvates / administration & dosage*
  • Pyruvic Acid
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Warts / drug therapy


  • Glycolates
  • Lactates
  • Pyruvates
  • glycolic acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • Pyruvic Acid