Hyaluronic acid: does it have side effects?

Hyaluronic acid, also known as hyaluronan orhyaluronate, is a gel-like substance normally found in the human body, mostly concentrated in the fluids, eyes and joints. It is has recently been employed to aid healing in case of joint disorders, and in specific eye surgeries. Most relevantly, hyaluronic acid is largely employed in the beauty industry. But are there side effects to its use?

    by Luke Lehrfeld @flickr

An interest in this substance emerged in the 1930s, and since then a number of studies have shown that hyaluronic acid is actually able to improve skin hydration, as well as stimulating the natural production of collagen in skin, generally maintains skin elasticity. Also its role as antioxidant and free radical scavenger, as well as cushioning joints and nerve tissues, and its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties have all been studied and demonstrated.

In plastic surgery, hyaluronic acid is commonly used as lip filler, and because it is believed to have an anti aging effect it is often found in creams and lotions active ingredient. Additionally, it is used on its own directly on the skin to promote healing of scars, burns, wounds or simply as a moisturizer.

Hyaluronic acid does not appear to have side effects when used in cosmetics, however as a substance used in medical injections it does, like all drugs, present some. For instance, it can cause difficulty with moving, muscle pain or stiffness, pain in the joints, or, most rarely, swelling or redness in the joints. Also, a number of superficial reactions on the skin may be caused as side effects of the use of hyaluronic acid as a drug for joint disorders.

Amongst these are: bleeding, discoloration of the skin, blistering, burning, coldness, inflammation, feeling of pressure, itching, tingling, ulceration,skin rash, redness, scarring, soreness, stinging, swelling, tenderness, tingling, ulceration, lumps, numbness, pain or warmth at the injection site.

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