The effect of physically applied alpha hydroxyl acids on the skin pore and comedone

Int J Cosmet Sci. 2015 Oct;37(5):519-25. doi: 10.1111/ics.12244. Epub 2015 Jun 26.


Objective: Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) have been recognized as commonly used therapy for acne. Our studies examined whether an additional effect of physical treatment using chemical peeling combined with negative pressure and compared with AHA treatment only occurs in acne-prone subjects.

Methods: The chemical peeling agent used 4% of an AHA solution (mixture of 1000 mL of carbonated water, 20 mL of glycolic acid and 20 mL of lactic acid). All subjects' faces were randomly divided into test and control groups. The test group was treated with chemical peeling combined with a physical effect, and the control group applied chemical peeling alone. For the 23 healthy females (average age: 30.17 ± 5.06 year), we measured sebum output level by light transmission, pore area and number by optical image analyser, and comedone counting before treatment and at 1, 2 and 4 weeks after a single treatment.

Results: Compared to the before treatment, whiteheads and blackheads were significantly decreased at 1, 2 and 4 weeks in the test group (P < 0.05), but for the control group, whiteheads and blackheads showed a tendency to decrease at 1, 2 and 4 weeks. Also at 1 week, whiteheads and blackheads of the test group significantly decreased compared to the control group (P < 0.05). Pore area and number significantly decreased at 1 week (P < 0.05), and the sebum output level was significantly decreased at 4 weeks (P < 0.05) only in the test group, which did not show any significant group difference for individual parameters.

Conclusion: 4% AHA solution combined with a physical effect had rapidly improving effects on whiteheads and blackheads synergistically. Combined physical therapy may have more impact on pore size and seborrhoea.

Keywords: AHA peeling; chemodermabrasion; comedone; hydradermabrasion.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Skin / drug effects*


  • Acids