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HOCL - It Kills Covid, and Has Other Great Uses!

as explained by Dr. Patricia Jones Blessman

Hypochlorous Acid or HOCL . . .

  • offers tons of benefits for your skin, and is also an EPA-registered disinfectant that works against COVID-19

  • you might be familiar with salicylic acid for acne, glycolic acid for exfoliation, and hyaluronic acid for hydration, but what about the buzzy ingredient, hypochlorous acid?

    • While the ingredient isn't exactly new, it's gained traction during the pandemic, thanks to its disinfecting properties.

    • And the hype is real: not only does hypochlorous acid act as an anti-inflammatory for skin conditions and wound care, but it also has been proven effective against Covid-19!

Curious to learn more about hypochlorous acid? Read on for what experts have to say about the versatile, good-for-your-skin ingredient.

What is Hypochlorous Acid?

Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) is a natural-occurring molecule in the body created by our white blood cells to fend off infection, bacteria, and injury to the skin. It works by supplying cells with oxygen to help the body's natural healing processes.

Made up of hydrogen, oxygen, and chlorine (HOCl), it is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. So, it's no surprise that this versatile ingredient with its healing properties has application in skincare (more on that shortly) and in the health care industry!

How can hypochlorous acid benefit your skin?

  • Quick Skin Conditions Lesson:

    • Skin that is susceptible to skin conditions, like eczema or acne, harbors more bacteria and therefore is prone to more infections. The anti-inflammatory effects of hypochlorous acid makes it useful for fighting breakouts, soothing skin, and repairing damage

    • HOCl breaks up the bacteria groupings, which can lead to fewer flare ups and offer healing

If you have sensitive skin and are cautious about introducing new ingredients into your routine, you don't have to worry about HOCl!

Hypochlorous Acid is naturally-occurring in the body, thus it is non-irritating and an ideal treatment for all skin types - Not to mention, it can address itchiness and reduce redness and flaking of the skin due to eczema, psoriasis, or acne. And since Hypochlorous acid kills bacteria that leads to infections (like staph), it also speeds up the healing process.

In dermatology, it's most commonly used post-procedure, such as after microdermabrasion, chemical peels, or laser treatments.

How Does Hypochlorous Acid Work Against Covid -19?

What makes hypochlorous acid different from other skincare ingredients is that it is ultra powerful at destroying bacteria and viruses.

In fact, studies have shown it is an effective disinfectant against the coronavirus. One of the unique properties of hypochlorous acid is that it has the ability to penetrate the cell membrane or outer wall of a virus and react with the cell metabolism, so the cell starts to die," says Lane Rolling, MD, infectious disease physician, virologist, researcher and professor.

The Covid-19 virus is caused by SARS-CoV-2. SARS-Cov-2 is known as an envelope virus. The envelope is an outer protective shell. Hypochlorous acid breaks through the envelope, attacks that outer protective shell, entering the cell, then deactivates the proteins necessary for the virus to survive.

Hypochlorous acid has traditionally been used in hospital settings for wound care and as a disinfectant, especially in Peru and some of the third world countries where Dr. Rolling conducts his medical practice. The EPA has included HOCl to its list of disinfectants effective at killing Covid-19. As of this writing, HOCL is one of only five disinfectants that have been empirically tested directly against SARS-Cov-2 where research findings are available to the public.

It is also one of the ingredients in bleach, but is a safer alternative, and common in many at-home cleaning products. (ICYDK, Hypochlorous acid is made by electrically charging salt, water, and vinegar—a process called electrolysis—which is how companies are able to harness its disinfecting properties.)

If you're looking for a household cleaner featuring the acid, the Force of Nature Starter Kit ($56; goes through the electrolysis process right on your countertop—it kills 99.9% of germs, doesn't need to be wiped away, and is safe to use around children.

Ways to Use Hypochlorous Acid:

While it's trending in the consumer market, hypochlorous acid was already a mainstay in the medical field. There are many hypochlorous acid products used by doctors in hospital settings to keep surgery sites clean, points out Dr. Schlessinger. It's used as a disinfectant and as a irrigant in surgery—meaning, as a solution to clean cuts, burns, or open wounds. Because of its Covid-19 disinfecting properties, it is being used by health care workers, especially when working around the mouth and nose.

And while hypochlorous acid has been proven to be effective against coronavirus, know that doesn't mean skincare products are an alternative to the CDC's advice of washing your hands, wearing face masks in public, or abiding by social distancing measures to slow the spread of Covid-19. Think of HOCl as a backup line of defense. But if a face mist can help, it's worth carrying ~one more thing~ around in your bag, along with your hand sanitizer and face mask case. (adapted from an article by Shannon M. Bauer)

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