Citric acid
Citric acid


Citric acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). Alpha hydroxy acids are natural acids found in foods. Citric acid comes from citrus fruits.

Alpha hydroxy acids like citric acid work by removing the top layers of dead skin cells, potentially improving the appearance of aging skin.

People use citric acid for acne, aging skin, dry mouth, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

Don't confuse citric acid with other alpha hydroxy acids, including lactic acid, glycolic acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid. These are not the same.
When taken by mouth: Citric acid is commonly consumed in foods. There isn't enough reliable information to know if citric acid is safe to use as medicine or what the side effects might be. Consuming large quantities of citric acid is likely unsafe.

When applied to the skin: Citric acid is possibly safe when used in products also containing glycolic acid and lactic acid in concentrations of 10% or less. But it is possibly unsafe when used inappropriately. Using products inappropriately or in higher concentrations can cause skin burns. Higher concentrations should only be used while under the care of a dermatologist.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Citric acid is commonly consumed in foods. But there isn't enough reliable information to know if citric acid is safe to use as medicine while pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.

Damaged skin: Avoid applying citric acid to broken skin. It can be painful.

Sensitive skin: Citric acid can cause skin irritation and make certain skin conditions worse. Use cautiously in people with sensitive skin.


There is interest in using citric acid for a number of purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Citric acid is found in foods and is used in various cosmetic products. There isn't enough reliable information to know what an appropriate dose might be, and products aren't always labeled appropriately. Speak with a healthcare provider before use.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

It is not known if Citric Acid interacts with any medicines. Before taking Citric Acid, talk with your healthcare professional if you take any medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
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