Can Vitamin A Help With Acne?


Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be divided into two groups: retinoids (or aldehydes) and carotenoids. Retinoids come from animals and can also be called preformed or active vitamin A because they are already in a form that is usable by the body. 

The antioxidant properties of vitamin A can help improve the health of your skin and overall well-being.

In addition, vitamin A may help reduce inflammation, another underlying cause of acne vulgaris.

The most promising treatment for acne with vitamin A is topical formulations. The products are also referred to as retinoids or retinol.

Consult your doctor before taking vitamin A supplements to treat acne. You can ask them if the supplements will interfere with any medications or supplements you already take.

Benefits of vitamin A for acne

Vitamin A supplements contain antioxidants. Free radicals are known for causing cell damage, and antioxidants prevent them. This may contribute to slow skin aging.

Acne can also be treated with vitamin A, but that depends on the source and how it’s used. The inside-out benefits of vitamin A-rich foods can be seen in better skin health, while topical acne treatments may target the problem directly.

Retinol (retinoid), a topical form of vitamin A helpful for treating and preventing acne lesions, is recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

A number of acne types can be treated with topical retinoids according to the organization.

Acne may be improved by retinol by:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Healing lesions and scars by stimulating skin cell growth
  • Decreasing sebum (oil) production
  • Making your skin smoother
  • Evening skin tone
  • Preventing environmental damage

As needed, retinoids can also help clear up severe acne breakouts in conjunction with antibiotics.

The use of topical vitamin A for acne is backed by a lot of research. However, oral vitamin A supplement for acne has had mixed results.

Researchers couldn’t support the effectiveness of oral vitamin A supplements as a treatment for acne, but they did observe that it might prevent acne vulgaris from getting worse.

Recent research also showed oral vitamin A supplement to be effective in treating acne, but it was a small, low-quality study.

As a topical treatment for acne, vitamin A offers the most promise.

Getting enough vitamin A in your diet is important, but it isn’t the best acne treatment. Overdosing on vitamin A can lead to health problems.

Is there any scientific research?

Topical vitamin A for acne is backed by a lot of research. There has been mixed research on oral vitamin A for acne, however.

Research from the past has shown that oral vitamin A isn’t effective in treating acne vulgaris, but it might prevent it from worsening.

In a small and low-quality study, oral vitamin A was found to be effective in treating acne.

The most promising use of vitamin A as an acne treatment is as a topical agent.

Even though vitamin A is an important part of your diet, it isn’t the best treatment for acne. You can harm your health if you take too much.

How to use vitamin A for acne?

If you are considering using vitamin A supplements for acne, you should first consult your doctor. Vitamin A-rich foods are generally safe to consume, but oral and topical vitamin A treatments have their own risks.

Vitamin A can cause side effects when taken orally and topically. Toxic buildup in the liver is sometimes caused by taking too much vitamin A.

Acne shouldn’t be treated by taking extra vitamin A supplements. Doing so could harm your liver.

How much should you get daily?

The recommended daily intake of vitamin A is between 3,000 to 10,000 IU, depending on your age and the state of your health, while a safe beta-carotene intake is 10,000 to 50,000 IU.

Taking more vitamin A to treat acne is not a good idea. The result could be severe health consequences, such as liver damage.

Topical vitamin A products

Over-the-counter retinoids are available for topical application. Retinoids are used in a variety of skincare products, including anti-aging and acne treatment creams.

There are also OTC retinoid creams that are more concentrated. Retinoids are usually combined with a carrier, such as glycerin.

Retinoids should be used sparingly by people who are using them for the first time. By doing so, they will be able to identify any possible side effects of the retinoids before moving on to a more concentrated form if necessary.

Stronger topical retinoids can be prescribed by your doctor, such as:

  • Tretinoin
  • Tazarotene
  • adapalene

Vitamin A supplements

Vitamin A supplements may improve your skin health and your immune system. If your diet isn’t providing enough vitamin A, or if you don’t already take a multivitamin, you might consider taking supplements.

Excess vitamin A consumption can cause liver damage and even death. If you are taking a high dose, you need to have your doctor measure your calcium and liver enzymes on a regular basis. 

If you have liver disease, are a smoker, are exposed to asbestos, or are pregnant, you should not consume high doses of vitamin A. 

Also, a recent study suggested that a daily intake of even 5,000 international units of vitamin A from dietary sources for more than twenty years may increase hip fractures in women.

Food sources of vitamin A

The following foods are numbered so that the foods that contain the most vitamin A are at the beginning of the list. As the list proceeds, the foods contain progressively less vitamin A.

  • Lamb’s liver
  • Beef liver
  • Calf liver
  • Red chilli peppers
  • Dandelion greens
  • Chicken liver
  • Carrots
  • Dried apricots
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens

AAD says there isn’t a specific diet that treats acne, however. Sugar and dairy should only be avoided by those with acne, as they could aggravate breakouts.

A healthy diet rich in vitamin A can promote overall skin health, but it won’t treat acne by itself. Instead, eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables for better skin.

Final Words

Acne is treated with vitamin A by reducing inflammation, cell damage, and redness. The use of topical or oral retinoids depends on the severity and duration of the symptoms.

Oral retinoids for acne should only be taken under the supervision of a physician. Acne that is difficult to treat or that is severe usually requires oral retinoids.

When this is the case, doctors will provide detailed instructions on how to use the medication. As part of the treatment plan, regular testing will be conducted to monitor side effects and prevent complications.

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