The aim of this study is to investigate the benefits, and claimed benefits, of topically applied Organic Avocado Oil for skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, Dermatitis, Dry Skin, Rosacea, Vitiligo, Acne, and Cellulitis
The Avocado tree is an evergreen tree that attains heights of 40 to 80 feet and has many branches. The leaves are elliptic or oval in shape and 3 to 10 inches long. Flowers are small, greenish, and perfect (has both male and female parts). The avocado fruit may be round, pear shaped, or oblong, and the skin of the fruit may vary in texture and colour. Unlike many fruits that typically have a sweet or acidic taste, avocados have a smooth, buttery consistency and a rich flavour. A popular use is as a salad fruit. Avocados are also processed into guacamole and can be used in sandwich spreads. Avocado paste with flavour extracts and skim milk can also be used to make an ice cream. Oil extracted from avocados can be used for cooking and preparation of salads, sauces and marinades. Avocado oil also can be used for skin care products such as sunscreen lotions, cleansing creams, and moisturizers, or for hair conditioners and makeup bases. (1)
The fruits of the Persea americana botanical (original nomenclature: Persea gratissima) – better known as the Avocado tree – were reportedly cultivated in Mexico, Central, and South America as early as 5000 B.C. In Mexico where the Aztec culture was established, the Aztecs referred to Avocados as “ahuacatl,” meaning “testicle.” It was so called, because of its phallic shape and the belief that its shape represented its properties as well as the inner forces it would act on when consumed, thus it was used not only as food but also as a “fertility fruit,” as it was believed to be a sexual stimulant. The Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans also spread the fruit pulp on their skin for use in cosmetic applications such as to create face masks. The Mayans of Guatemala used Avocados to relieve diarrhoea, prevent intestinal worms and parasites, and promote healthy hair growth. For its countless benefits, the Avocado was considered a precious fruit. In some regions of Mexico, the iconography portrays the fruit in accordance with the narratives of Mexican mythology, which depicts the Avocado as a fruit that bestows immense vigor. In other regions of Mexico, artifacts can be found that are made with parts of Avocados dating back to 12 000 years ago. (2)
Psoriasis is a condition that causes the body to make new skin cells in days rather than weeks. As these cells pile up on the surface of the skin, you may see thick, scaly patches. The most common form of psoriasis is Plaque psoriasis which affects about 80% to 90% of people living with psoriasis (6). Anyone who has Psoriasis will be able to confirm that it is, more often than not, a life long disease. Medical News Today found that “The antioxidants and vitamins in avocado oil may help to heal the dry, irritated, and flaky skin associated with eczema and psoriasis”. (3) There is very little scientific evidence about the beneficial applications of avocado oil, for the treatment of psoriasis however a study of “Avocado and vitamin B12 cream was conducted. Early research suggests that a proprietary cream containing avocado oil and vitamin B12 may reduce the symptoms of psoriasis” (4), but more research is needed. A study containing “Aloe vera extract, oleoresin from Copeifera langsdorffii (5%) ointment, and cream with Persea americana (Avocado) oil showed significantly greater improvements in psoriatic treatment” (5)
Eczema is a condition where patches of skin become inflamed, itchy, red, cracked, and rough. Blisters may sometimes occur. Different stages and types of eczema affect 31.6 percent of people in the United States (27). “Plant oils have long been used on the skin for cosmetic and medical purposes because they have been found to have many positive physiological benefits. For example, plant oil application may act as a protective barrier to the skin by an occlusive effect, allowing the skin to retain moisture, resulting in decreased TEWL (transepidermal water loss) values” (7). The study conducted by S. Karger AG, Basel (2018) Moisturizers versus Current and Next-Generation Barrier Repair Therapy for the Management of Atopic Dermatitis states that “Because they block water loss out of the skin, these agents can temporarily ameliorate the xerosis (medical name for dry skin) that is characteristic of atopic dermatitis (AD) and age-associated eczematous disorders. Moreover, by improving the hydration of the stratum corneum (SC), they can dampen inflammation” (8).
When it comes specifically to Avocado Oil and it's widely claimed affects on atopic dermatitis (eczema), “it is important to remember that “while these agents can impart an elegant texture to such formulations, they provide no scientifically proven benefit” (8), because “it is important to note that occlusive moisturizers do not address the underlying biochemical abnormalities” (8)
Even though “the antioxidants and vitamins in avocado oil may help to heal the dry, irritated, and flaky skin associated with eczema and psoriasis. A person with a skin condition may wish to test a patch of skin first, to ensure that the oil does not trigger or aggravate their symptoms” (3).
Dry skin is an uncomfortable condition marked by scaling, itching, and cracking. It can occur for a variety of reasons. You might have naturally dry skin. But even if your skin tends to be oily, you can develop dry skin from time to time. Dry skin can affect any part of your body (but) It commonly affects hands, arms, and legs” (9). “Xerosis cutis (another name for Exoderma) is generally diagnosed on clinical grounds. Possible trigger factors must be avoided, and comorbidities (the root cause of one or more conditions) should be adequately and specifically treated. Suitable skin care products should be chosen with a view to improving skin hydration and restoring its barrier function. They should therefore contain both rehydrating and lipid‐replenishing components (10). The International Journal of Molecular Science 2018, 19(1) published the study “Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils” (11), found that Avocado Oil “is an excellent source of enrichment for dry, damaged, or chapped skin” (12). Although it was less likely to penetrate as deep into the epidermis as other plant based oils for skin barrier restoration, such as coconut oil, due to the lower monounsaturated oleic acid content of the avocado fruit (13).
Avocado oil is derived from the fruit (mesocarp) of the Persea americana. Avocado oil extracted from the pulp of the fruit is rich in linoleic acid (6.1–22.9%), linolenic acid (0.4–4.0%), and oleic acid (31.8–69.6%)(also known as Essential Fatty Acids). It also contains β-sitosterol, β-carotene, lecithin, minerals, and vitamins A, C, D, and E (14). Topical application of oil is an effective means of delivering EFA's (Essential Fatty Acids) to the skin and, eventually, to the rest of body. Because a significant portion of ingested EFAs may be oxidized by the liver (up to 60% of ALA (α-Linolenic acid) and 20% of LA (Linoleic acid) before reaching peripheral tissues, topical application may be a more efficient route of delivery for skin effects, especially during deficiency (15). Dr Axe, the popular medical doctor and media personality, states that “ Clinical assessments observing the skin’s barrier and hydration levels indicate that moisturizing rosacea-prone skin can help restore the skin’s barrier. When patients regularly cleaned and moisturized dry, rough, patchy skin, they found that noticeable symptoms, discomfort and overall sensitivity of skin improved (16). He goes on to say “Natural rosacea treatment products tend to be less irritating and are also cheap, safe and easy to obtain compared to prescriptions (16). Trusted medical site, WebMD.com staes that “Doctors don't know exactly what causes rosacea. A few things that may play a role are: Your genes. Rosacea often runs in families. Blood vessel trouble. The redness on your skin might be due to problems with blood vessels in your face. Sun damage could cause them to get wider, which makes it easier for other people to see them. Mites. They're tiny insects. A type called Demodex folliculorum normally lives on your skin and usually isn't harmful. Some people, though, have a heightened sensitivity to the mites, or more of these bugs than usual” (17). Rodriguez-Carpena et al. (18) “mentioned that all avocado parts had antimicrobial properties, with pulp (mesocarp) showing the highest activity”. There are no definitive studies that show any benefits in the use of avocado oil against Demodex Mites and the findings are beyond the scope of this study.
Vitiligo is a depigmenting disorder in which the loss of functioning melanocytes causes the appearance of white patches on the skin (19) The use of avocado oil in the treatment of vitiligo shows no direct benefit. However, avocado oil is often used as a carrier oil for other active ingredients due to it's ability to be readily absorbed into the epidermis and dermis. Beyond these upper two layers, avocado oil shows no discernible ability to penetrate deeper.
“Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It often causes whiteheads, blackheads or pimples, and usually appears on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders. Acne is most common among teenagers, though it affects people of all ages” (20) “Avocado oil also has anti-inflammatory effects, which can help to reduce the redness and inflammation associated with acne” (21) Dr. Axe, the popular medical doctor and media personality, sates that “Many acne sufferers think they need to strip their skin of oil to improve their breakouts, but this can actually make acne even worse. This can go either way. Some people find that avocado oil helps to moisturize their skin which decreases the likelihood of sebum overproduction which can be a root cause of acne” (22). Whilst avocado oil will not cure acne, and caution should be exercised when claims like this are made, we can say that inflammation will be reduced in many instances will reduce the appearance of acne.
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissues (just under the dermis).The most common bacteria are staphylococcus aureus (golden staph) and group A beta-haemolytic streptococcus. These bacteria enter broken or normal skin, and can spread easily to the tissue under the skin (23) The skin is colonized by a large number of balanced microbes. Infection occurs when there is loss of balance between the microbes and the host (24). Numerous studies have been conducted to test the effects of avocado oil either by itself, or in combination with other additives. Olive oil was hypothesized as a potentially encouraging complimentary additive to avocado oil, but “In conclusion, Staphylococcus aureus was resistant to the combination of olive oil and avocado oil” (25) further studies need to be completed. Despite claims made by some brands and groups, the Harvard Medical School says “Cellulitis is treated with antibiotics. Your doctor will choose a specific antibiotic depending on the site of your cellulitis and the likely cause of your infection. Most cases of cellulitis improve quickly once you start taking antibiotics” (26).
All content is created and published for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. When using any new cosmetic product, we strongly recommend always try testing it first on a small, inconspicuous area of skin such as your forearm for a 24hr period before normal daily usage. If you experience a reaction, don’t use the product again. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
1. http://www.extento.hawaii.edu/kbase/crop/crops/i_avocad.htm Chia, C. L. et. al. and Yokoyama, K. M., et. al.
2. https://www.newdirectionsaromatics.com/blog/products/all-about-avocado-carrier-oil.html ALL ABOUT AVOCADO CARRIER OIL, OCTOBER 19, 2017
3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321543#how-to-use Eight Benefits of Avocado Oil for the Skin. Written by Lana Barhum on April 19, 2018
5. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/9d35/a7585a42abedcaff204db32666bb97480d54.pdf?_ga=2.208949399.44179558.1582068374-161440344.1582068374 Stücker M, Memmel U, Hoffmann M, Hartung J, Altmeyer P. Vitamin B (12) cream containing avocado oil in the therapy of plaque psoriasis. Dermatology 2001; 203: 141–147
6. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/psoriasis/what/overview Menter A, Gottlieb A, et al. “Guidelines of care for the management of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, Section 1: Overview of psoriasis and guidelines of care for the treatment of psoriasis with biologics.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008; 58:826-50.
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/ Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Dec 27;19(1):70. doi: 10.3390/ijms19010070. PMID: 29280987; PMCID: PMC5796020.
8. https://www.karger.com/Article/Fulltext/493641# Elias P, M, Wakefield J, S, Man M, -Q: Moisturizers versus Current and Next-Generation Barrier Repair Therapy for the Management of Atopic Dermatitis. Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2019;32:1-7. doi: 10.1159/000493641
9. https://www.healthline.com/health/dry-skin Written by Kristeen Moore - Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN on May 10, 2018
10. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ddg.13906 Diagnosis and treatment of xerosis cutis – a position paper. Matthias Augustin, Dagmar Wilsmann‐Theis, Andreas Körber, Martina Kerscher, Götz Itschert, Michaela Dippel, Petra Staubach. Pages: 3-33,18 November 2019
11. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(1), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19010070 Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils By Tzu-Kai Lin 1,Lily Zhong 2,*and, Juan Luis Santiago 3,*
12. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1600-0846.2011.00578.x Patzelt, A.; Lademann, J.; Richter, H.; Darvin, M.E.; Schanzer, S.; Thiede, G.; Sterry, W.; Vergou, T.; Hauser, M. In vivo investigations on the penetration of various oils and their influence on the skin barrier. Skin Res. Technol. 2012, 18, 364–369.
13. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/exd.12296 Mack Correa, M.C.; Mao, G.; Saad, P.; Flach, C.R.; Mendelsohn, R.; Walters, R.M. Molecular interactions of plant oil components with stratum corneum lipids correlate with clinical measures of skin barrier function. Exp. Dermatol. 2014, 23, 39–44.
14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/ De Oliveira A.P., Franco Ede S., Rodrigues Barreto R., Cordeiro D.P., de Melo R.G., de Aquino C.M., E Silva A.A., de Medeiros P.L., da Silva T.G., Goes A.J., et al. Effect of semisolid formulation of persea americana mill (avocado) oil on wound healing. Evid. Based Complement. Alternat. Med. 2013;2013:472382. doi: 10.1155/2013/472382
15. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids#reference4 2012 by:
Giana Angelo, Ph.D. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University.
18. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf1048832 Rodriguez-Carpena, J.G.; Morcuende, D.; Andrade, M.J.; Kylli, P.; Estevez, M. Avocado (Persea americana Mill.) phenolics, in vitro antioxidant and antimicrobial activities, and inhibition of lipid and protein oxidation in porcine patties. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2011,59, 5625–5635
19. https://journals.lww.com/jewds/Fulltext/2012/05000/Cyclooxygenase_2_and_prostaglandin_E2_in_vitiligo.5.aspx Whitton ME, Ashcroft DM, González U. Therapeutic interventions for vitiligo. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008;59:713–
24. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128124758000081 Medicinal Plants for Holistic Health and Well-Being, 2018, Pages 255-275. Chapter 8 - Medicinal Plants Used in the Treatment of Superficial Skin Infections: From Traditional Medicine to Herbal Soap Formulations Murunwa Madzinga, Quenton Kritzinger, Namrita Lall.
25. http://www.herdin.ph/index.php?view=research&cid=69541 The effect of combination of olive and avocado oil against Staphylococcus aureus. HERDIN RECORD #: R07-CDU-18102710432030 SUBMITTED: 27 OCTOBER 2018 MODIFIED: 22 OCTOBER 2019 Alyssa Mae Y. Aba, Erika Justine O. Badilla, Joseph Marlon N. Bragat, Kirk Jason M. Mendoza, Michael Gerald M. Pacardo, Meara Pearlnille C. Suico, MA. LOURDES C. UMLAS. College of Arts and Sciences - Biology Department - Cebu Doctors' University
26. https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/cellulitis-a-to-z Cellulitis, What Is It? Published: December, 2018. Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School.
27. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/14417 What's to know about eczema? Medically reviewed by Justin Choi, MD on November 14, 2017 — Written by James McIntosh