Taking lysine for acne is not a common treatment or therapy but has proven successful for some acne sufferers. Lysine is one of the essential amino acids for the body, but because it is not produced by the body, it must be consumed. Some people prefer to get their intake of lysine from food sources while others find supplements more convenient. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and protein is an important factor in healing the skin. Using lysine for acne works for some people but has the opposite effect for others.
The main role of lysine is collagen formation and tissue repair, which is probably why it may be effective for acne. The amino acid is usually prescribed or recommended as a treatment for viral infections such as cold sores, shingles and herpes. The effect of the lysine on acne was noticed by people taking supplements for these conditions who saw their acne clear up at the same time. Other people, however, saw the exact opposite and experienced increased acne outbreaks while taking lysine supplements. Research has supported that lysine can have a beneficial effect on the skin, but some people may be more sensitive to the role lysine plays in maintaining hormone and enzyme levels.
For some users of lysine for acne, it seems to be effective over the short term but then the acne flares up again. As lysine is integral to tissue repair, it promotes the healing of scarred and unhealthy skin. This effect may only be temporary as the causes of the acne have not been treated, only the symptoms. It could also be that taking lysine for acne or for herpes over the long term may deplete levels of the B6 vitamin and one sign of B6 deficiency is skin inflammation.
There are 21 amino acids, all of which are necessary for optimal health, but of those, only eight are not synthesized in the body and so must be provided in the diet; these are referred to as "essential" amino acids. Lysine is one of these. It is found in some meats, fish, vegetables, dairy products and legumes. Most people who follow a healthy diet get enough lysine from the foods they eat and it is recommended that sufferers of cold sores try to increase their dietary sources of lysine before taking supplements. Lysine supplements are generally considered safe and free of side effects, but excessive lysine intake may contribute to the formation of gallstones.