This Acne Supplement Isn’t Worth The Hype

When it comes to acne, I know my patients in Nashville would try just about anything to clear it up. Well, here to warn you today is a treatment that might be more hyped up than you thought: oral lactoferrin. Lactoferrin is an iron-binding milk-derived protein that has been thought to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects - but is it worth using to treat acne?

Historically, the idea that lactoferrin might be anti-inflammatory comes from studies that showed it could do much more than dig up some iron. However, the study was not approved by governing bodies and thus, it might not have as much truth to it as we might like.

A recent study published in the International Journal of Dermatology tested this in a randomized trial of 168 patients who had mild to moderate acne, and took lactoferrin and placebos for three months. The results revealed that there were statistically significant improvements in inflammatory and noninflammatory lesions - but here’s the catch: the number of lesions was low. That means, for example, that a reduction of two pimples reads as a 30% improvement!

All in all, what the study actually showed was that less than half of the red acne bumps were controlled after 10 weeks. As a Nashville dermatologist, our goal in caring for acne is 80-100% clearance. In fact, lactoferrin did a poor job clearing clogged blackheads and whiteheads - a big red flag for dermatologists.

This is a clear example of the kind of study that may lead others to think that it’s a great, natural approach to acne - especially when you see statistics like “30% improvement” - when in fact, they are not dramatic results. Moreover, studies like this often get a lot of media hype - but did you know that it was carried out by the manufacturer of the lactoferrin product being tested?

In conclusion, while I believe trying it may not be harmful to your body, I cannot fully recommend the use of lactoferrin and would not encourage my Nashville patients to believe it can calm their acne. With greater research and more objectivity, perhaps the dermatology community can be convinced of its use for acne. Until then - don’t believe the hype!

Want to learn more about how you can treat acne? Visit us at Skin Solutions Dermatology in Nashville, Franklin, Columbia, Smyrna, Hendersonville or Pulaski to chat with our amazing team of dermatology specialists! Take advantage of our online booking system and book an appointment today.

Source: International Journal of Dermatology

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