[Use of organic acids in acne and skin discolorations therapy]

Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2015 Mar 22;69:374-83. doi: 10.5604/17322693.1145825.
[Article in Polish]


Acne is one of the most frequent skin disorders that occurs in puberty, but often adults also have acne. The most important factors responsible for acne are elevated production of sebum by hyperactive sebaceous glands and blockage of the follicle because of hyperkeratosis [14]. The third etiopathogenic factor of acne is excessive microflora reproduction [8]. The most significant bacterium that is responsible for formation of skin lesions is Propionibacterium acnes, a rod-shaped Gram-positive and aerotolerant anaerobic bacterium. It is estimated that P. acnes is responsible for acne in approximately 80% of people aged 11 to 30 [27,40]. Even healed skin lesions can often cause skin discolorations and scar formation [51]. Exfoliating chemical substances that are commonly used in dermatology and cosmetology are organic acids. Exfoliating treatment using organic acids is called "chemical peeling" and consists of controlled application of those substances on the skin [38]. The depth of exfoliation depends on organic acid concentration, type of substance and contact time with the skin [41]. Using exfoliating agents seems to be helpful in excessive keratinization - one of several factors responsible for acne. Moreover, epidermis exfoliation is a popular method of removing skin discoloration [22]. Considering chemical structure, exfoliating substances that are most often used in cosmetology contain alpha-hydroxyacids (glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid and citric acid), beta-hydroxyacids (salicylic acid) and other organic acids, such as trichloroacetic acid and pyruvic acid [47]. In this article, a literature review of use of organic acids in acne and skin discoloration therapy is presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Acne Vulgaris / microbiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Dermatitis / drug therapy*
  • Dermatitis / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Glycolates / therapeutic use
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Keratolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lactic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Propionibacterium acnes / drug effects*
  • Salicylic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Sebaceous Glands / metabolism
  • Sebum / metabolism
  • Trichloroacetic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Young Adult


  • Glycolates
  • Keratolytic Agents
  • glycolic acid
  • Lactic Acid
  • Trichloroacetic Acid
  • Salicylic Acid