Tranexamic acid for skin care: Safety, benefits, and more

Tranexamic acid, which some people may call TXA, is a medicine doctors often use to help control bleeding. Growing evidence suggests TXA may be a beneficial ingredient to include in skin care products. It may be particularly useful for treating dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and melasma.

TXA is a medicine that can help blood to clot. While this is currently the only approved usage for TXA, some evidence suggests it may provide off-label benefits in dermatology.

In particular, people may use it to treat melasma, hereditary angioedema, and urticaria. As such, TXA is gaining prominence in the world of skin care, as it may help improve the appearance of the skin and cause fewer potential side effects than comparable substances.

In this article, we discuss TXA, including its safety and benefits and which products contain it.

TXA is a synthetic molecule with a structure similar to lysine, a naturally occurring amino acid. Lysine plays a considerable role in promoting the growth of collagen, which provides the skin with strength and elasticity.

Doctors often prescribe TXA as a fibrinolytic agent, or a drug that helps blood to clot. It can help reduce blood loss from:

Doctors may also give it to individuals with heavy menstrual bleeding.

A doctor accidentally discovered the potential of TXA to brighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation by reducing melanin, when using the medication to treat chronic urticaria.

Research suggests TXA may have a role in dermatology due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-melanin producing properties.

When applied to the skin, TXA interferes with a pathway that decreases the interaction between skin cells, or keratinocytes, and melanin-forming cells, or melanocytes. This can help reduce:

Reduces pigmentation and dark spots

According to a 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis, TXA is a promising approach for treating melasma.

Similarly, a 2019 study found that 5% TXA is just as effective at treating melasma as 3% hydroquinone. The participants also showed higher satisfaction with TXA than with hydroquinone, the gold standard treatment for hyperpigmentation.

Fades sun spots

TXA may also be able to fade skin damage due to UV exposure, such as sun spots and age spots.

In a 2021 study, a topical derivative of TXA effectively improved the participants’ overall skin tones, redness, inflammation, and dark spots in sun-damaged skin.

Strengthens skin barrier

The outermost layer of the skin, or the skin barrier, protects the body from germs and toxins, retains moisture, and prevents water loss.

Some researchers associate certain skin conditions, such as rosacea, with a damaged skin barrier.

The author of a 2016 study notes that improving the skin barrier could decrease rosacea symptoms. Moreover, evidence suggests TXA accelerates skin barrier recovery.

The antifibrinolytic property of TXA also makes it beneficial in treating erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, a type of rosacea that presents with facial flushing and persistent redness.

Reduces acne and acne-related discolorations

The authors of a 2022 review found that TXA, along with specific topical and laser treatments, is effective in fading post-inflammatory erythema. These are dark, red, pinkish, or purplish skin discolorations that remain after an acne breakout resolves.

A 2022 study also notes that 10% TXA can be an effective treatment for reducing acne inflammation and skin redness.

Unlike some other brightening agents, TXA is generally safe and well-tolerated by all skin types.

However, as with any new skin care ingredient, a person may want to consult a dermatologist before adding a product to their skin care routine.

The reported side effects of TXA are mild. A 2014 study reports mild side effects, such as irritation, scaling or flaking, and dryness.

A 2022 study also reports redness and scaling as side effects. However, a person may be able to reduce these by applying a moisturizing cream.

There is currently not enough research on the safety of TXA for pregnant individuals.

A person may also consider performing a patch test on a small skin area before using the product, to ensure safety.

Doctors may sometimes prescribe oral TXA to address melasma or heavy menstrual bleeding.

Some common adverse effects experts associate with TXA tablets can include:

It may not be advisable for people with the following conditions to use TXA:

Individuals taking birth control pills, breastfeeding, or living with acute promyelocytic leukemia or liver and kidney impairment may also need to avoid it.

When using a cosmetic product containing TXA, it is advisable to refer to the instructions on the product label.

The label should provide a guideline to using the product, including the amount to use, frequency of application, and ways to incorporate it into one’s skin care routine.

There are several skin care products on the market that may contain TXA.

Some examples include:

  • moisturizers
  • serums
  • masks
  • concealers

People who may want to avoid this ingredient in skin care products can consider alternatives that may provide similar benefits. This could include:

A person may consult a dermatologist to find out which ingredients will be most suitable for their concerns.

TXA is an ingredient that may offer many benefits for the skin, including the ability to fade dark spots, discolorations, and melasma. It may also be beneficial for treating acne and improving the skin barrier.

The primary use of TXA is as an agent that promotes blood clotting. While its use in dermatology is off-label, research indicates that it is safe for all skin types and has mild side effects, which could include irritation, redness, and flaking.

Some people with certain health conditions may be at risk of more severe side effects. They should seek guidance from a healthcare professional before incorporating products that contain TXA into their skin routines.

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