Hyaluronic Acid: Health Benefits, How to Use & Side Effects

Updated in March 2024

Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is produced naturally by the body. It is found in greater quantities in the skin, connective tissues and eyes, and it is responsible for retaining water, keeping tissues hydrated and lubricating he joints. It is normal for hyaluronic acid to decreases with aging.

Hyaluronic acid can be prescribed for application to the skin, to help smooth wrinkles or expression lines, It can also be injected as lip fillers, or even used for the treatment of conditions like dry eyes, joints, dry eyes or osteoarthritis.

Hyaluronic acid can be purchased in the form of a gel, cream, capsules, oral solution or eye drops. It should only be used as directed by a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, ophthalmologist or orthopedist.

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Health benefits

Hyaluronic acid is indicated for:

  • Rejuvenating the skin
  • Hydrating the skin and reducing dryness
  • Improving skin elasticity
  • Reducing sagging;
  • Reducing wrinkles and expression lines
  • Injecting as lip filler
  • Reducing dark circles;
  • Correcting deep scars caused by acne
  • Healing chronic skin ulcers;
  • Relieving pain from canker sores or ulcers on the lining of the mouth.

Furthermore, injectable hyaluronic acid can also be injected into the joints by an orthopedic surgeon to treat health problems such as osteoarthritis or arthritis. Hyaluronic acid eye drops can be prescribed by an ophthalmologist to treat dry eye or used during cataract surgery.

Injectable hyaluronic acid should only be used by a doctor. Its use depends on the condition to be treated.

How to use

The way that hyaluronic acid is used varies depending on the health goal. The doctor may recommend the use of this substance in the form of gel, capsules, eye drops, oral solution, or injectable.

1. Injectable hyaluronic acid

Injectable hyaluronic acid is a product that is found in gel form. It is indicated for filling wrinkles, furrows and expression lines on the face, normally around the eyes, corners of the mouth and forehead. It is also used to increase the volume of lips and cheeks and to correct dark circles or acne scars.

  • How to apply: hyaluronic acid should always be injected by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon in a dermatology clinics. The professional makes small incisions in the area where the acid is intended to be applied and uses local anesthesia to reduce the sensitivity and pain of the incisions. This procedure takes an average of 30 minutes and does not require hospitalization;
  • Results: The results of its application appear immediately after the procedure, and last between 6 months and 2 years, depending on each person's body, the amount of gel and the depth and number of wrinkles.

After applying the acid, it is common for pain, swelling and bruising to appear at the site, which generally disappears after a week, however, to reduce discomfort, ice can be applied with a compress for 15 minutes several times a day.

Injectable hyaluronic acid can also be used by orthopedic surgeons to apply directly to the joint in cases of osteoarthritis or arthritis. 

2. Hyaluronic acid cream

Creams that contain hyaluronic acid hydrate the skin, as they retain large quantities of water to give the skin a firm and smooth appearance. This product should be used by men and women over 45 years of age.

  • How to apply: Hyaluronic acid creams should be applied directly to the skin 3 to 4 times a week. Apply a small amount over the entire face, after cleansing the skin. 
  • Results: Hyaluronic acid generally are more effective in preventing wrinkles rather than in treating wrinkles. However, it can be applied to more wrinkled skin, and help to hydrate the skin and give it a healthier and more youthful appearance.

Hyaluronic acid creams are not usually associated with side effects, however, some people may experience an allergic reaction which can cause symptoms such as red or itchy skin. In these cases, you should discontinue use and consult a dermatologist.

3. Hyaluronic acid capsules

Capsules or tablets with hyaluronic acid have a strong anti-aging power, as they help to repair tissues and maintain skin elasticity. However, they should only be taken as directed by  a dermatologist.

  • How to take: you can take 1 capsule per day with a meals. They should only be taken for the time indicated by your doctor, and should not be used for more than 3 months.
  • Side effects: generally, these anti-wrinkle pills do not cause adverse reactions and are safe to take.

In addition to treating wrinkles, they can also prevent and delay the appearance of them, making first wrinkles finer.

4. Hyaluronic acid oral solution

Hyaluronic acid oral solution in the form of an oral spray helps reduce pain and discomfort caused by canker sores or ulcers in the mouth. It forms a protective film within the oral mucosa, keeping the mucosa hydrated and accelerating the healing process.

  • How to use: the oral hyaluronic acid solution can be applied to the mouth on the cold sore or ulcer, 2 to 3 times a day, for 1 week. Application should be done after cleaning your mouth. Take a sip and keep the solution in your mouth, swishing it around for at least 1 minute and then spitting it out. You should wait at least 30 minutes after using to drink water or eat a meal.
  • Results: the oral hyaluronic acid solution provides immediate pain relief 

Hyaluronic acid oral solution should only be used as directed by a general practitioner or dentist.

5. Hyaluronic acid eye drops

Hyaluronic acid in the form of eye drops can be prescribed by an ophthalmologist for cases of dry eyes caused by insufficient tear production or corneal injuries, such as keratoconjunctivitis sicca or dry eye syndrome. It helps to lubricate the eyes, and relieve symptoms such as burning, itching or redness of the eyes.

  • How to use: 1 to 2 drops of hyaluronic acid eye drops can be applied to the conjunctival sac of the affected eye, up to 3 times a day, or as directed by your ophthalmologist.
  • Side effects: hyaluronic acid eye drops are generally well tolerated, and blurred vision may appear shortly after application, due to the viscosity of the eye drops, but this improves quickly. Although it is rare, intolerance to the eye drops may also occur, with a burning or stinging sensation in the eyes.

Hyaluronic acid eye drops can be found in pharmacies or drugstores containing 0.4% hyaluronic acid. They should be used as directed by an ophthalmologist.

Hyaluronic acid eye drops can be used by the ophthalmologist following cataract surgery as it helps to reduce inflammation and speed up healing.

Contraindications for use

Hyaluronic acid in the form of capsule or tablet supplements should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women, nor by people with a history of cancer.

Hyaluronic acid in the form of a cream should not be used by people who have scleroderma, as this substance causes the skin to tighten, which can worsen the symptoms of this disease.

Furthermore, hyaluronic acid should not be used by people who are allergic to this substance or any other component of the formulas