Gold Nanoparticles for Acne Treatment

Using gold as a means to selectively target the skin's oil glands

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Gold has been around for centuries and is known as a symbol of luxury. Tiny particles of gold called nanoparticles are becoming increasingly popular in skincare ingredients. It has even been shown to provide effective treatment for acne.

 

What are Gold Nanoparticles?

Nanoparticles have been studied for their potential use in drug delivery and therapeutics. Gold nanoparticles are microscopic particles, usually with diameters of 10 to 20 nanometers (nanometers are 1 billionth of a meter) although larger gold nanoparticles can be prepared. These particles have been utilized for their ability to penetrate into the deeper skin layers.

 Gold nanoparticles within a cell - Dykman LA, Khlebtsov NG - Acta Naturae (2011)

Caption: Gold nanoparticles (green) in comparison to the size of a cell (blue =nucleus; red = cytoskeleton of a cell). Credit: Dykman LA, Khlebtsov NG - Acta Naturae (2011)

Uses in Acne Treatment

Acne has many ways to be treated and researchers have been studying ways to control the overactive sebaceous glands that can lead to the plugged and inflamed pores seen in acne. A study used gold covered silica nanoparticles with a strong optical absorption of 800 nm. The particles where topically massaged into the skin in order for them to be taken up by the sebaceous glands. 

Gold nanoparticles into sebaceous oil glands in the skin

Then the skin is exposed to an infrared laser that selectively targets the gold nanoparticles. The procedure is similar to laser hair removal or light-based removal of abnormal blood vessels. After exposure to an 800-nanometer laser, the sebaceous glands were selectively heated up via the gold nanoparticles leading to local injury of the sebaceous glands. In the clinical trials that followed, significant improvement of inflammatory acne was seen, showing the potential advantages of gold particle-assisted laser acne treatment. The benefits of this treatment include a reduction in acne severity, minimal toxicity, and longer lasting effects on reduced acne inflammation.

 

Gold Facial Masks

Gold facial masks also offer a way for your skin to reap the benefits of gold nanoparticles. Although there isn’t sufficient research behind the benefits of gold facial masks, they are marketed to improve blood circulation, skin elasticity, and prevent the formation of wrinkles.

In another study, there was an innovative nanofiber facial mask composed of ascorbic acid, collagen, retinoic acid, and gold nanoparticles. The ingredients of the face mask gradually dissolved into the skin and were shown to increase the stability of antioxidants. Gold facial masks have potential to make antioxidants last longer and these nanoparticles may improve product stability.   

Gold nanoparticles have been shown to be able to penetrate into the deeper layers of human skin. Notably, they have the ability to be topically applied to enter the sebaceous glands, providing a new approach to acne treatments. Further research on the anti-inflammatory properties of gold nanoparticles may offer a new and targeted way to deliver treatment to the skin.   

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