Alpha Hydroxy Acids
The benefits of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) have been known for many years. Yet how they worked to treat skin problems was not known until recently. AHAs can improve acne, keratoses, problem dry skin, pigment changes, and sun damage. They are also known to lessen the look of fine lines and wrinkles. AHAs are often called “fruity acids” because they are found in many fruits and other foods. One of the most common AHAs is glycolic acid which comes from sugar cane.
Many skin problems occur because the skin does not shed its outer layer as it should. This leads to a build up of dead skin cells. AHAs help to loosen and remove the surface skin cells. This helps the deeper cells to rebuild. This improves the texture, clarity, and appearance of the skin.
AHAs are found in low concentrations in many over-the-counter creams and lotions today. Many of these products are fairly low-cost and may meet the needs of your skin type. High strengths of AHAs are most often only found at a doctor’s office or through a licensed esthetician (a person trained in skin care). UW Health West Clinic Pharmacy carries the higher strength AHA for those who wish to use them for skin treatments.
UW Health Pharmacy carries two skin care lines. One is called Neostrata® and the other is MD Forte®. Each skin care line offers products for people with normal, dry, or oily/acne-prone skin types. If you aren’t sure which products are best for you, ask your health care provider. It is best to start with a lower strength AHA and slowly work up to a higher strength AHA, once your skin has adjusted.
A mild, tingling feeling during the first few days of using an AHA is common. This should go away within a few minutes after putting it on. Some people have some redness or irritation when they first start using AHAs. If this occurs, stop using the AHA for a couple of days. Once the irritation goes away, slowly start using it again. Begin using AHA once every other day. Increase to once or twice a day if the irritation does not come back. If the irritation returns, stop using AHA and talk to your health care provider.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 07/19/2010
Copyright © 07/19/2010 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5532
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