Possible Benefits, Safety, and More

If you live with persistent acne, you’ve likely tried a number of treatments in a bid for clearer skin.

While you have plenty of options to consider, traditional acne-reducing ingredients like retinol and benzoyl peroxide may not work for everyone. If they prove too strong for your skin, you might notice a cycle of inflammation, dryness, and redness that weakens your skin’s natural defenses and leads to more breakouts.

Perhaps you’ve heard of colloidal silver, a topical treatment currently gaining traction as a remedy for acne. This aqueous solution contains micro-sized particles of silver. Proponents say these particles deliver supercharged antimicrobial benefits without damaging the skin’s microbiome.

The claims are impressive, to be sure. But does it really work? Is it safe to use? Here’s what to know before trying it.

Colloidal silver was first used medicinally in 1891 to clean wounds. This use continued until the 1940s, when antibiotics came into play. Today, you can find colloidal silver in various skin care products, including:

  • lotions
  • masks
  • toners
  • serums
  • cleansers

“Silver has been shown to have antimicrobial properties,” explains Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

He goes on to say that applying it to the skin may have benefit as an acne treatment.

“The rationale is that silver can lower levels of acne-causing bacteria on the skin that promote inflammation and pimples.”

Since bacteria plays a key role in acne, using a product that targets bacteria without harming the skin barrier make sense.

While experts aren’t certain, it’s generally thought that silver particles can puncture the cellular walls of bacteria, inhibit cellular respiration, and disrupt DNA and the replication cycle.

Most existing support for colloidal silver’s effectiveness is anecdotal. Still, you can find a number of dermatologists who recommend it.

One small randomized controlled trial from 2017

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