Pantothenic Acid for Acne: Does it Work and How to Use

What is pantothenic acid?

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5) is one of the eight B vitamins.

Like the other complex B vitamins, vitamin B-5 plays a vital role in helping the human body maintain good health.

One of its main functions is to convert fats, protein, and carbohydrates into energy, which is a process called oxidation.

Vitamin B-5 has also been found to help a range of health conditions, including:

  • multiple sclerosis
  • headache
  • depression

It’s also known for its role in maintaining healthy hair, skin, and eyes.

You can buy a vitamin B-5 or even a complex B supplement, but you can also find this vitamin in natural sources.

Natural sources generally include the foods you eat on a daily basis, such as:

  • meats
  • poultry
  • lentils
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • white and sweet potatoes
  • whole grain cereals
  • dairy products
  • nuts
  • beans
  • lentils

Can pantothenic acid help with acne?

There are several theories that attempt to link vitamin B-5 to clearer skin.

The vitamin B-5 deficiency theory

Dr. Lit-Hung Leung was one of the first people to question whether pantothenic acid could help with acne.

He believed that a deficiency in vitamin B-5 makes your body less capable of digesting and processing fat.

As a result, some of this excess fat is pushed through the skin in the form of sebum, which is an oily substance that’s produced from the sebaceous gland.

Each pore in your skin is connected to one of these glands. Acne usually results when these pores get clogged with:

The problem with the vitamin B-5 deficiency theory

However, there’s one big problem with this theory: Vitamin B-5 deficiency is extremely rare in people because this essential nutrient is found in most foods.

In fact, it’s so widely available that even its name, “pantothenic,” means “from everywhere.”

Other theories about pantothenic acid’s use for acne

As for current theories, Dr. Yoram Harth, a board certified dermatologist and medical director of MDacne, says that there are other possible explanations.

Vitamin B-5 may increase coenzyme A

Firstly, he says that vitamin B-5 increases coenzyme A (CoA), an agent important in lipid metabolism and other cellular processes.

“It’s believed that one of the causes of acne is a deficiency in CoA in the skin,” he says.

“Coenzyme A increases the breakdown of excess oil from the skin oil glands, and that reduces the clogging of the skin oil pores and acne breakouts.”

Vitamin B-5 helps reduce stress

Secondly, he explains that vitamin B-5 helps reduce stress.

“As acne is frequently related to increased stress, regulating stress response can be another benefit of taking vitamin B-5 by people with acne.”

What the research says

As of right now, there’s limited research as to whether pantothenic acid can help with acne. One study, however, has shown positive results.

The 8-week study in people with mild to moderate facial acne vulgaris found that taking a pantothenic acid-based dietary supplement significantly reduced blemishes.

While this study shows the potential for using vitamin B-5 to treat acne, more research is still needed to prove its effectiveness.

Is pantothenic acid safe to use?

Research has found that vitamin B-5 supplements are safe and well-tolerated by the body.

It’s water-soluble, so there’s little chance of the body overdosing because the urinary tract system would filter and flush any excess pantothenic acid.

At most, you might find that the vitamin turns your urine bright yellow.

One 2012 study found no serious side effects from taking the supplement over an 8-week period.

How much pantothenic acid should I take?

There are currently no official recommendations as to what dosage of vitamin B-5 you should take to treat acne.

It’s always best to talk with a doctor or a dermatologist to determine the best approach to treating your acne.

Dr. Harth recommends that his patients take pantothenic acid supplements in vegetable capsules.

He says that the supplements usually:

  • have the highest dose,
  • are easier to swallow than regular tablets, and
  • don’t leave an aftertaste in the mouth.

They can also be opened and sprinkled on food.


Vitamin B-5 is an important vitamin. It’s been linked to many impressive health benefits, such as:

  • converting the food you eat into energy
  • treating various health conditions

It may also help clear up acne. While more research needs to be done on this theory, the results so far have been promising.

You can take a supplement if you struggle to get enough vitamin B-5 in your diet. Be sure to talk to a doctor or dermatologist to learn the correct dose as well as other acne treatment recommendations.

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