Pantothenic Acid: Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin B5 & Acne

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when our hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells.

This enables bacteria to thrive and multiply inside the pores, which triggers the immune system into sending inflammatory signals to fight the overgrowth, causing swelling, redness, and inflammation associated with a pimple.

However, the good news is that there are many ways to treat, reduce, and even entirely get rid of acne.

Some of these include having a great skincare routine, making healthy adjustments to your diet, and supplementing with certain vitamins to help combat the condition.

One of the most popular supplements for acne is pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5, with clinical research showing that it has the potential to reduce acne lesions and prevent future breakouts.

Therefore, in this article, we will take a look at how pantothenic acid can treat acne, how to use it, and what are some potential side effects you should be aware of if you’re considering taking this supplement.

What is Pantothenic Acid?

Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is a water-soluble B vitamin and an essential nutrient for our bodies. Its primary function in the body is to convert lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates into energy.

This is why pantothenic acid deficiency leads to increased arthritic pain, myalgia, fatigue, headache, depression, insomnia, and widespread “pro-inflammatory” effects on the immune system.

Benefits of Pantothenic Acid

Due to the potential health hazards its deficiency can cause, pantothenic acid is often used as a supplement to help treat various health problems.

It has been studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and has been found to be efficient in improving wound healing by moisturizing the skin barrier and strengthening its function.

Additionally, pantothenic acid supports the health and function of the adrenal glands, which is essential when it comes to how your body manages stress.

Healthy levels of pantothenic acid reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol and help to balance it out.

Finally, pantothenic acid has been linked to improved mental health and cognitive function because it improves the function of essential neurotransmitters involved in thinking, concentration, and memory.

How Does Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) Treat Acne?

Pantothenic acid can help improve inflammatory skin conditions like acne in several ways.

Here are some of them:

Activates Coenzyme A 

Coenzyme A is essential for fatty acid oxidation and lipid metabolism. It works by balancing out the oil production and improving the skin barrier’s function.

This will lead to a healthy amount of oil needed for skin lubrication, while a strong skin barrier can repel foreign pathogens and limit the accumulation of dead skin cells and bacteria.

Research has proven that those who have CoA deficiency are more prone to developing acne, and with pantothenic acid boosting CoA levels, acne lesions can be significantly reduced.

Reduces Stress

Stress is one of the leading causes of acne. This is because the stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline can directly stimulate the oil-producing glands, leading to increased sebum production and clogged pores.

Additionally, dealing with a stubborn condition like acne is likely to cause even more stress, leading to a vicious cycle of never-ending breakouts.

As pantothenic acid has a significant impact on stress reduction and balancing the hormones that trigger this cycle, it may also improve acne.

Lowers Insulin Resistance 

Sugar consumption is another major cause of acne.

Sugary foods and drinks raise insulin levels in the blood, which then triggers the release of androgens that increase oil production, leading to clogging and bacterial overgrowth.

Additionally, sugar can also change the composition of the skin’s natural oil, making it stiff and harder to travel through the pores and on the surface of the skin.

This can lead to a lack of oil to lubricate the skin while clogging the pores and triggering inflammatory reactions such as acne.

However, pantothenic acid may reduce the effects of insulin resistance, which can, in turn, lead to a decrease in acne if the condition is caused by this abnormality.

Promotes Healing

Pantothenic acid promotes the skin’s healing process by improving wound healing and strengthening the skin barrier.

This will, in turn, lead to less inflammatory responses, as well as faster healing of a pimple.

When a research study examined the effects of vitamin B5 on acne, it revealed a positive result, with 41 subjects showing significantly reduced acne after twelve weeks of implementing pantothenic acid as a supplement in their daily routine.

Provides Nourishment to The Skin

Acne is a condition that’s primarily associated with excessively oily skin. However, a little less-known fact about it is that it can also affect those with dehydrated skin.

Dehydration is a skin condition that occurs when the skin barrier is compromised and the skin fails to retain moisture.

A lack of hydration can also lead to the overproduction of oil as the skin attempts to mitigate the dryness; however, this excessive oil production can clog the pores and cause breakouts to form.

When the skin is dehydrated, it feels dry, stretched, and uncomfortable; however, there’s more than enough oil stuck inside the pores that can’t reach the surface and relieve some of that dryness.

Now, while pantothenic acid won’t help moisturize the skin directly, it can help strengthen the skin barrier, which means the skin will slowly start to retain more moisture and become nourished and healthy.

Additionally, this action will also help reduce inflammation and regulate oil production, making it the perfect supplement for anyone dealing with acne, no matter the skin type.

How to Use Pantothenic Acid for Acne?

Pantothenic acid is available through food sources, supplements, and topical skincare products and can be used in various ways to achieve your health and well-being goals.

Here’s how to use pantothenic acid for acne:

Pick the Right Dosage

Generally, up to 100mg of pantothenic acid in a supplement form is enough to boost the production of coenzyme A and improve general well-being.

Anything up to 500mg is safe for those dealing with chronic stress and hormonal imbalance.

However, with that said, while taking higher doses of pantothenic acid supplements might be suitable for some concerns, there are some side effects associated with megadosing.

Therefore, if you’re unsure how to start, speak to your health provider or a nutritionist who will take your goals into consideration and advise a tailored dosage.

Consider Food Sources

Food is the safest way to get not only vitamin B5 but also other vitamins. It has little to zero side effects and is a better way to protect your kidneys from supplement side effects.

B5 is found in various animal and plant products and is most abundant in meats such as pork, turkey, chicken, and beef, as well as organs such as the kidney and liver.

Additionally, B5 is also found in vegetables such as mushrooms, broccoli, corn, sweet potatoes, kale, avocadoes, and tomatoes.

Finally, legumes such as lentils, split peas, and soybeans are another great source of natural pantothenic acid and can make for a great snack between meals.

Use Skincare Products

Vitamin B5 is frequently found in skincare products under the name panthenol.

Soothing, barrier-strengthening, and hydrating, this component can instantly relieve inflammation caused by acne and speed up the healing process.

Found in everything from cleansers, toners, serums, moisturizers, and overnight masks, topical pantothenic acid can help keep your skin calm, nourished, protected, and free of acne.

Pantothenic Acid Side Effects

The potential side effects of pantothenic acid have more to do with the dosage than the component itself.

So, while having an allergic reaction to pantothenic acid is unlikely, overdosing on this component is possible and can lead to adverse effects such as fatigue, headaches, nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea.

Therefore, if you experience any of these after starting pantothenic acid supplements, especially in high doses of up to 500mg, stop using them and contact your healthcare provider right away.

If you’re concerned about overdosing, opt for the natural route instead, and make foods rich in pantothenic acid your only source of this component.

Can You Take Vitamin B5 While on Accutane?

Accutane is the brand name for isotretinoin, an oral medication that contains high concentrations of vitamin A designed to treat severe acne on the face and body.

And although super efficient when it comes to all types of acne, Accutane is known for its uncomfortable and potentially severe side effects it can have on our skin and health.

With that said, doctors will often advise you to avoid doing many everyday things, such as drinking alcohol, eating certain foods, or participating in certain activities.

Additionally, it is well known that Accutane shouldn’t be mixed with other medications and certain supplements, such as vitamin A.

Now, while there isn’t anything to suggest that pantothenic acid supplements could clash with Accutane and reduce its potency or cause adverse effects, it’s still not recommended to use both.

As we already mentioned, high doses of pantothenic acid supplements can lead to some side effects, such as fatigue and headaches, which may be exacerbated by Accutane.

Additionally, if you are already using a nuclear weapon for treating acne, which is Accutane, introducing pantothenic acid for the same issue is entirely unnecessary; therefore, it’s best to avoid it altogether.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Vitamin B5 Help with Hormonal Acne?

Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid can help with some cases of hormonal acne.
This component can lower inflammatory responses to elevated stress hormones, thus reducing their impact on the skin and helping clear breakouts.

Does Vitamin B5 Help with Acne Scars?

Taking pantothenic acid as a supplement won’t help fade acne scars, as it doesn’t have melanin-inhibiting properties that would help reduce the discoloration of scar tissue.
However, pantothenic acid can strengthen the skin barrier and stabilize its function, thus preventing future breakouts and scars from forming and encouraging normal cell turnover, which could potentially lead to scars fading faster than they would if the skin is inflamed.
Additionally, topically applied panthenol can soothe redness and improve post-inflammatory erythema, which are red dots commonly seen in those with fair skin who experience acne breakouts.

How Long Does it Take for Vitamin B5 to Work on Acne?

While answering this with accuracy is almost impossible, as every skin is different and requires different care and adjustment periods, some studies suggest that pantothenic acid can noticeably improve the skin’s appearance and significantly reduce acne breakouts in as little as twelve weeks of introducing it to your daily routine.

Originally Published: February 10, 2023

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I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood
Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.

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