Method of treating acne with benzyl alcohol

This expired Bayer patent says so

... The effectiveness of benzyl alcohol in inhibiting the formation of free fatty acids was demonstrated by applying to one half of the forehead of normal humans a composition containing benzyl alcohol while the other half was treated with a control such as water or isopropanol. At specified time intervals, sebum was collected with an absorbent paper and subsequently extracted with ether. The ether was evaporated, the residual sebum weighed accurately and assayed for free fatty acids either titrimetrically, gravimetrically or by gas chromatography.

In one test, a 1% aqueous solution of benzyl alcohol was applied to one half of the forehead and compared with distilled water as a control. After 1.5 hours, the fatty acid content of the sebum collected from the area treated with benzyl alcohol was reduced from 7.3 to 6.6 milliequivalents per milligram of sebum whereas the water treated area showed an increase of from 7.3 to 9.6 milliequivalents of fatty acid per milligram of sebum.

In another test, a medicated cleanser containing 1% hexachlorophene, 2% colloidal sulfur and 2% salicyclic acid in an emulsion creme buffered to a pH of 4.2 was used as a control and compared to the same cleanser to which was added 2% by weight of benzyl alcohol. Sebum was collected for six hours and weighed. In 3 out of 4 patients, the amount of sebum secreted was reduced by 20 to 28% in the area treated with the benzyl alcohol containing cleanser versus the area treated with the cleanser alone. The fatty acid content of the sebum from the area treated with the cleanser containing 2% benzyl alcohol was likewise significantly lower than in the sebum collected from the area treated with the cleanser only.

In still another test, the foreheads of five patients were treated with a 4% aqueous benzyl alcohol solution and the amount of sebum secreted was compared over a period of 14 days with that collected from foreheads of five patients treated 'with a 4% aqueous isopropanol solution. Significant reductions of from 23% to 74% in the quantity of sebum secreted resulted in the patients treated with benzyl alcohol whereas the control group treated with isopropanol showed reductions of sebum secreted ranging from 0% to 25%.

Similar results are obtained when compositions containing concentrations on the order of from 10 to 50% by weight of benzyl alcohol are used in treating acne. Since the active ingredient is virtually non-toxic, benzyl alcohol can be employed if desired to obtain the same beneficial reductions in sebum secretion and inhibition of fatty acid formation which is the underlying cause of acne. ...



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