Lactoferrin for Acne. Does It Work?

Drinking cow’s milk enriched with the protein lactoferrin may improve acne by up to 20 percent, researchers report in the journal Nutrition. Here are details from the experts at The Natural Standard:

Earlier laboratory studies have suggested that lactoferrin-enriched cow’s milk may have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. In a recent study, 36 adults with acne were randomly assigned to drink fermented milk supplemented with 200 milligrams of lactoferrin or non-enriched fermented milk daily for 12 weeks.

Every four weeks, the researchers recorded the participants’ acne severity and lesion counts. At the beginning and end of the study, the authors evaluated the skin’s hydration, sebum (oily secretions), pH, and surface lipids.

By the end of the study, the number of inflammatory lesions, total lesion count, and acne severity significantly decreased by 38.6 percent, 23.1 percent, and 20.3 percent, respectively, in the lactoferrin group compared to the control. Additionally, lactoferrin led to a 31.1 percent drop in sebum content compared to the placebo.

In the control group, no significant improvements were observed in acne severity and inflammatory lesion count.

Both groups experienced reductions in skin surface lipids. However, triacylglycerols and free-fatty acids declined in the lactoferrin group, while only free-fatty acids decreased in the control group. According to the researchers, the drop in triacylglycerols was significantly associated with improvements in acne.

Skin hydration and pH were similar in both groups.

“Although the results are promising,” The Natural Standard concludes, “additional research is needed to confirm these early findings.”

Several natural therapies have been studied for acne. For example,

  • some studies suggest that zinc may be beneficial for acne, and that serum zinc levels may be linked to acne severity.
  • Also, derivatives of vitamin A called retinoids are used to treat various skin disorders, including acne. Topical and oral retinoids, such as tretinoin (Avita®, Renova®, Retina-A®, Retin-A Micro®), are available by prescription.
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