Licorice cream is often used to reduce inflammation and irritation as well as to treat certain skin problems like shingles and eczema. Skin lightening creams also use licorice extract to inhibit the production of tyrosinase, an enzyme essential in the production of melanin. There are two different forms of licorice cream: creams containing glycyrrhizin and those without glycyrrhizin, which are called deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) creams. DGL creams are often believed to be safer, since glycyrrhizin is known to interact with several medications and worsen certain medical conditions.
There are many different uses of licorice. It is used to create black licorice flavoring and treat a wide variety of ailments, including heartburn, ulcer and certain respiratory problems. In cream form, licorice is used to sooth irritated, swollen skin. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, licorice cream is commonly used to treat several skin problems, including eczema, shingles, psoriasis and herpes. Research is currently conflicted as to whether licorice is an effective treatment for these conditions.
Licorice is also included in many skin lightening creams. This is because licorice contains a flavonoid known as glabridin. Glabridin inhibits the production of tyrosinase, which plays a vital role in the manufacturing of melanin. Studies have also indicated that glabridin might also possess inflammatory properties.
While looking for a licorice cream, consumers will notice is that there are two different types of licorice creams. Some licorice creams contain glycyrrhizin, which is a compound found in the root of the licorice plant. Other creams, commonly referred to as DGL creams, do not contain this compound.
While glycyrrhizin is used to treat a number of respiratory problems like asthma it can be dangerous. When used over long periods of time, glycyrrhizin might cause fluid retention, low potassium levels, and high blood pressure. People who are on certain medications, including blood pressure medication, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, and corticosteroid medication, should avoid using glycyrrhizin.
DGL creams are generally believed to be safer than those containing glycyrrhizin. Although people who are on oral contraceptives or suffer from hormone-sensitive medical conditions, such as endometriosis or breast cancer, should be careful when using any licorice cream. Licorice contains phytoestrogen, or plant-based estrogen, that might impact a person’s hormone levels. To be safe, consumers should consult their physician before using licorice cream to treat a skin condition. While these creams are typically safe in moderation, a physician will be able to determine the safety of using licorice cream.