L-Lysine for Acne and Skin Health, Does It Work?

While there are treatment methods such as prescription drugs and hormone therapy for acne, some claim that the amino acid lysine may help, so, how does L-lysine for acne work?

L Lysine For Acne

Getting flawless skin proves to be a challenge, especially for individuals who regularly battle acne. Numerous treatments are available for acne, but not all of them may work adequately. In this regard, some users claim the amino acid lysine helps. So, how does L-lysine for acne work, and what are the benefits of this amino acid?

What is Acne?

Before that, it is vital to understand what acne is and what causes it. When bacteria, dead skin cells, and sebum accumulate and get stuck in the hair follicles, it leads to clogged pores. This then leads to acne. Common areas where acne manifests include the back, shoulders, chest, and face. These areas are where the oil glands are active.

The lesions associated with acne include small bumps, nodules, cysts, blackheads, and whiteheads. For some individuals, acne is aggravated by certain conditions which include the following.

  • Clothing or Headgear
  • Picking at Acne
  • Fluctuating Levels of Hormones


In the treatment of acne, three drugs are said to be effective. Depending on the severity of the acne, an individual may need only one or a combination of two drugs. These include the following.

1. Antibiotics

These may be taken orally or applied topically. For oral drugs, these include trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and tetracycline. On the other hand, drugs applied topically include erythromycin and clindamycin. Antibiotics are usually used in conjunction with retinoids or benzoyl peroxide.

2. Benzoyl Peroxide

This treatment is available as a prescription or a non-prescription drug. Non-prescription benzoyl peroxides include Stridex and Clearasil. On the other hand, benzoyl peroxide treatments requiring prescriptions include Persagel, PanOxyl, and Benoxyl. The common side effect for such treatment includes dryness and irritation.

3. Retinoids

Whiteheads and blackheads are treated with vitamin-A derivatives such as Tazorac, Retin-A, and Differin. These usually need a prescription, but a non-prescription version is available. Oral retinoids such as isotretinoin are prescribed for individuals with severe acne. However, the side effects of isotretinoin include elevated levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. It may also cause congenital disabilities, which is why they use of isotretinoin is ill-advised for pregnant women. Moreover, retinoids are only prescribed for individuals whose acne fails to respond with the other treatment methods available.

Aside from the drugs mentioned above, hormone therapy is another treatment method. This works best for individuals with excessive male hormones (androgen) or who experience irregular periods. Hormone therapy entails low doses of progesterone and estrogen or medications that work against androgen.

Amino Acids for Skin Health

While some individuals turn to the usual treatment medications for acne, some claim that amino acid supplements help the skin stay hydrated and healthy. What are amino acids and what do these compounds do?

The building blocks of proteins are called amino acids. There are numerous amino acids, but only 20 of them play a vital part in the body. These types are differentiated as non-essential and essential.

The essential amino acids include valine, tryptophan, threonine, phenylalanine, methionine, lysine, leucine, isoleucine, and histidine. On the other hand, the non-essential amino acids are tyrosine, serine, proline, glycine, glutamine, glutamic acid, cysteine, aspartic acid, asparagine, arginine, and alanine.

As mentioned, amino acids aid in keeping the skin well hydrated and healthy. However, specific amino acids have distinct roles to play when it comes to healthy skin. These amino acids include the following.

  • Leucine, Glycine, and Proline: diminishes the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
  • Methionine: neutralizes the effects of free radicals on the skin
  • Histidine: contains antioxidants that soothe the skin
  • Arginine: repairs visible damages to the skin
  • Lysine: reinforces the skin’s supportive elements to maintain firmness

L-Lysine for Acne

When it comes to acne, lysine is an amino acid that proves to be a beneficial treatment. It aids in collagen prodction in collaboration with glycine and proline. Collagen is vital for maintaining skin firmness and elasticity. Apart from its effects on the skin, lysine offers the following benefits.

  • Helps in the Absorption of Zinc, Iron, and Calcium
  • Helps in the Production of Hormones, Antibodies, and Enzymes
  • Supports the Body’s Immune System
  • Promotes Growth of Collagen

An individual with insufficient lysine may manifest symptoms such as the following.

  • Anemia
  • Anorexia
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Hair Loss
  • Irritability
  • Inhibited Growth
  • Nausea
  • Problems in the Reproductive System
  • Red Eyes


Lysine is taken orally, but it may also be used topically, especially in cold sores treatment. Research suggests that lysine works best when consumed on an empty stomach. Moreover, the study claims that an individual weighing at least 70 kg requires approximately 800 to 3000 mg (0.8 to 3 grams) of lysine in a day.

The weight of an individual directly affects the amount of lysine required. Refer to the following dosages per weight for lysine.

  • For Adults: 12 mg per kg of weight
  • For Children Ages 11 to 12 Years Old: 44 mg per kg of weight
  • For Infants Ages 3 to 6 Months Old: 97 mg per kg of weight

Side Effects

While studies claim that taking lysine supplements are safe, increasing the dose to more than 15 grams in a day may cause problems with the digestive system. These adverse reactions include the following.

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Nausea

Moreover, recent studies claim that lysine supplements may lead to problems in the kidney. Studies conducted on animals show that supplements of lysine increase the risk of high cholesterol and gallstones. Further research done on humans are needed to verify such claims.

Take note that before starting on supplements, it is essential to speak with a licensed physician or pharmacist.


Rather than opt for supplements, choose natural sources of lysine. It is found in food that is rich in protein, specifically dairy products and meat. Lysine may also be sourced from plant food. Some sources of lysine include the following.

  • Dairy: yogurt, cheese, milk
  • Fish: tuna, cod, salmon
  • Fruits: pears, avocado, dried apricots
  • Legumes: chickpeas, kidney beans, soy
  • Meat: lamb, chicken, beef
  • Seafood: oysters, prawns, mussels
  • Seeds and Nuts: cashews, pumpkin seeds, Macadamia nuts
  • Vegetables: leeks, peppers, potatoes

Buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa also offer decent amounts of this amino acid.

L Lysine For Acne

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