The Benefits of L-Lysine For Acne

The Benefits of L-Lysine For Acne

Acne may look simple, but as the saying goes: looks can be deceiving. Its underlying causes are often deep and systemic, manifesting on the surface as a build-up of oil (sebum), bacteria, and dead skin cells. Oily sebum becomes trapped in hair follicles, which creates the optimal environment for the anaerobic bacteria to thrive and multiply. Protected from the oxygen and nurtured by the sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells clog up the pores, making for one hot and itchy acne inflammation.  

While inflammatory acne breakouts can have a wide variety of causes, there are a few factors that can help control this process, some of which come in the form of nutrients. Today, we're going to cover one such key nutrient: the amino acid L-Lysine (chemical name Lysine monohydrochloride), also conventionally known as lysine.


L-Lysine, the Essential Amino Acid

While it's true that our bodies are made up of mostly water, it's important to remember that all this water is held together by a rich and well-maintained frame of protein. But what holds all that protein glued together? Well, it's the small army of amino acids. Besides serving as the basic building blocks in the structures of protein that form our bodies, amino acids also perform several important metabolic functions and regulate cellular activity.

L-Lysine is one of the 20 amino acids known to man but also belongs to the 'precious' subset of the so-called essential amino acids. There are ten of these, and they're all known as "essential." This is because, unlike non-essential amino acids, they cannot be produced by the human body. Instead, we must supplement each of the ten essential amino acids through our diet.


L-Lysine Keeps the Skin Healthy

As mentioned, some amino acids regulate our bodies down to the cellular level. L-Lysine is an essential amino acid. This is because L-Lysine aids the production of carnitine. This key substance plays a role in converting the body's fatty acids into energy while also absorbing calcium, which can improve bone health.

Additionally, L-Lysine works by aiding collagen production - and collagen (as you probably already know) plays a crucial role in skin health, contributing to a smooth, youthful appearance. Both of these functions - the regulation of fatty acids at the cellular level and the regulation of collagen - have made L-Lysine an interesting essential amino acid for treating acne.

That's not all, however. Since L-Lysine is so dutiful in delivering collagen to skin cells, it also helps prevent (and sometimes revert) conventional signs of aging, such as wrinkles, dark spots, or fine lines. Collagen, after all, is what makes skin so firm, smooth, and elastic.

So more L-Lysine means more collagen, which means healthier skin. Simple, right?

Other Benefits of L-Lysine

Treats Cold Sores

Otherwise known by their scientific name (herpes simplex virus), cold sores are painful blisters that appear on the lips. A study found that lysine can aid in healing the herpes virus.

Anxiety Reduction

A study found that Lysine fortification reduces anxiety, meaning this amino acid is not only great for our overall health - it's good for our mental health, as well.

How Much L-Lysine Should I Take?

Sadly, science has yet to give us a precise answer as to how much L-Lysine should be taken to treat acne. But anecdotal data can provide us with some awareness of the effectiveness of L-Lysine and its prescribed doses.

According to research, the recommended daily intake for treating a bout of herpes (otherwise known as cold sores) is 1,000 milligrams of lysine for 12 months. On the other hand, taking anywhere between 500 and 4,000 milligrams of L-Lysine is recommended to prevent canker sores.

But again, those prescriptions aren't intended for treating acne. If you intend to take L-Lysine supplements for an acne problem, you will need to consult with your MD and dermatologist first.

The Consequences of an L-Lysine Deficiency

If you don't get enough lysine, it can compromise your immune system, and your body may start to show it. It won't just impact your overall skin health - it'll impact other things, too. Signs of a lysine deficiency include:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Red eyes
  • Hair loss

A lack of this amino acid can even cause reproductive disorders.


The Natural Way

To circumvent the dosage conundrum, we have a better route: the natural way. Why take L-Lysine supplements when so many tasty, mouth-watering foods contain this essential amino acid?

Here is a list of some of the best natural sources for L-Lysine. With a few dietary changes, you can get all the benefits of this amino acid - and without taking supplements.


Plant Sources

Lysine Rich Fruits and Vegetables:

  • Avocados
  • Mangoes
  • Dried apricots
  • Tomatoes
  • Leeks
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Red peppers
  • Green peppers
  • Pears


Lysine Rich Legumes:

  • Soybeans
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Soy milk
  • Chickpeas
  • Hummus
  • Kidney beans
  • Navy beans
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Edamame
  • Wheat germ


Lysine Rich Nuts and Grains:

  • Pistachios
  • Cashews
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Seitan
  • Amaranth
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa

animal products

Animal Sources

Lysine Rich Meats:

  • Red meat
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Snails


Lysine Rich Dairy Products:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Milk


Lysine Rich Seafood:

  • Fish
  • Oysters
  • Shrimp
  • Sea snails

There are a couple of important caveats here. Even if you gorge on more lysine-rich foods, the actual intake and absorption of the essential amino acid will depend on the accompanying nutrients, such as Vitamin C, Vitamins B12 and B5, as well as iron, zinc and other minerals.

That's why it's just as important to follow a balanced diet and not just a lysine-rich one. When it comes to food and nutrients, diversity is a strength.

Another thing to remember is that it takes anywhere from 10-30 days until a healthy skin cell goes through its lifecycle. This means the effects of L-Lysine intake won't be immediately necessary - nurturing your body takes time. So give it a couple of months before you expect to see clear skin. Nature works slowly, but she's very thorough.

skin health

L-Lysine May Keep Skin Healthy, But Don’t Expect Wonders

While no hard scientific data confirms that L-Lysine always helps with the treatment of acne, the well-known properties of this amino acid make it a necessary component for establishing good skin care.

However, we need to remember that a multitude of factors can cause acne, and in a lot of cases, merely increasing the amount of L-Lysine won't change much. Even people who eat the best diets and have more than enough L-Lysine in their bodies often suffer from other factors that promote the appearance of acne. These acne-aiding factors include:

  • Stress
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Heredity
  • Having a naturally oily skin with more sebaceous glands
  • Poor hygiene

If one or more of these factors contribute to your acne problem, consult your dermatologist.


Side Effects of L-Lysine

Can any amino acid be harmful? Not really, but science always follows the golden rule of "trust but verify." According to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, the existing literature and clinical studies show that L-Lysine toxicity is pretty rare. The most severe side effects reported were the occasional upset stomach and some cases of diarrhea.

Try Acne Treatments That Work

As we've mentioned above, there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that L-Lysine can treat acne or acne scars. If you're looking for a quick and effective way to get your acne breakouts under control, you need a good skin care routine, like the Clear Skin Duo Kit. This salicylic acid cleanser and toner will reduce inflammation, kill acne-causing bacteria, get rid of dead skin cells, soothe breakouts, and control oily skin.


How much lysine should I take for breakouts?

As lysine isn't a traditional acne treatment, it can be hard to know how much you should take for breakouts. However, the daily amount of lysine adults are recommended to take is 38 milligrams (mg) per kilogram of your body weight.

Upping your lysine will improve your overall health, strengthen your immune system and help your body fight certain skin conditions.

Does zinc and lysine help acne?

It's well known that zinc can help treat acne. This mineral can decrease the body's production of oil, which is one of the leading causes of acne. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help with both hormonal and inflammatory acne breakouts, reducing redness and swelling. You can take zinc for acne in a supplement form, or it can be applied topically.

Although there's no concrete evidence to support the idea that lysine can stop your acne breakouts, lysine is an essential amino acid that will help build collagen and reduce free radical damage, which contributes to poor skin elasticity and other skin conditions. On that note, there is nothing wrong with introducing more lysine into your body, either in the form of diet or an oral lysine supplement. It may not be as quick as other treatments, but there's no harm in trying lysine for acne.

What happens if you take lysine every day?

If you take the recommended dose of lysine every day, along with all the other nutrients that are important for your health (such as vitamin C), you'll reap all the benefits. A diet rich in all the minerals and vitamins you need will reduce fatigue, improve your immune system, build collagen, improve your overall skin health, and so much more.

However, please be away that excessive use of lysine can lead to gallstones. However, this is rare.


Acne or not, a healthy and varied diet is essential for our health, and not only for ensuring healthy skin. L-Lysine remains one of our best allies for improving our skin health naturally by boosting collagen production. Besides, it comes packaged in some of the tastiest foods. A balanced diet rich in the foods we mentioned above will ensure you get enough lysine to keep your body working as it should.

Although L-Lysine may clear your skin, it's important to note that it might not work as an effective acne treatment for moderate to severe acne. In that case, you're better off trying other treatment options.

If you prefer to take additional L-Lysine supplementation, please consult a medical professional.


National Library of Medicine, Lysine

E DRI Values for Indispensable Amino Acids by Life Stage and Gender Group

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2006. Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Lysine fortification reduces anxiety and lessens stress

Lysine for Herpes Simplex Prophylaxis


This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances, and its goal is to offer a general view of the subject. In case you are suffering from a severe case of acne, you should consult with a dermatologist or a certified medical professional.

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