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What Are the Dangers of Kojic Acid?

What Are the Dangers of Kojic Acid? What Are the Dangers of Kojic Acid?

Kojic acid is a compound with the chemical name 5-hydroxy-2-hydroxymethyl-4-pyrone. According to the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers, kojic acid is most commonly used as a skin lightening agent in topical creams, lotions and gels. It inhibits the absorption of polyphenol oxidases, which are chemicals derived from plant and animal sources, and which convert the chemical tyrosine into melanin. By inhibiting melanin conversion, kojic acid prevents this chemical from giving the skin its typical brown color. Kojic acid is most commonly used for fading freckles and age spots, although it can also be used for overall skin lightening. Some researchers believe that kojic acid poses dangers to humans.

Respiratory Problems

Several tests conducted by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products indicated that laboratory animals treated with kojic acid developed respiratory problems shortly after dosing. The mice that were given kojic acid exhibited slower than normal breathing rates. Some of the mice also exhibited gasping. At the end of the study, researchers performed autopsies on the mice that did not survive the test and found obstructions in the mice's lungs. Autopsies also revealed lung hemorrhages in some of the test animals. Currently, researchers do not know if kojic acid poses the same respiratory dangers to humans.

Light Sensitivity

Use of skin lightening products that contain kojic acid may produce skin sensitivity in areas where the products are applied, according to the Skin Whitening website. This sensitivity may cause burning sensations, irritation and heightened susceptibility to sunburn when the skin is exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays. Applying a sunscreen before exposure to the sun is critical when using products containing kojic acid or any other skin lightening agent.

Organ and Glandular Damage

In the studies conducted by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, autopsies of test animals revealed pallor of the liver, kidneys and spleen, suggesting organ damage caused by kojic acid. Some of the studies also noted an increase in the weight of the thyroid gland. Thyroid weight gain coincided with changes in thyroid gland function, which produced changes in both weight and appetite. It is not known whether the use of kojic acid causes the same effects in humans.

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