Can AmLactin Reduce Dark Spots?

Reports on social media say the product can help lighten skin but scientific evidence is lacking.

Updated November 20, 2022
Woman applying body lotion on shoulder

Some people don't appreciate the age spots, liver spots, or sun spots that they've accumulated over the years. If you have skin patches or spots that are darker than the surrounding skin (called hyperpigmentation), you may be wondering if AmLactin can help reduce them. AmLactin is a brand of over-the-counter skin creams used to treat dry, itchy, scaly skin. The products are sometimes promoted on social media as a way to manage dark spots. But does AmLactin lighten skin?

There is little scientific evidence to suggest AmLactin is effective at treating hyperpigmentation. The creams can offer a range of skin benefits, but research is lacking regarding AmLactin and dark spots.

What Is AmLactin?

AmLactin, or ammonium lactate, is a combination of 12% lactic acid and ammonium hydroxide. AmLactin promotes their combination of ingredients as a "powerful, yet gentle alpha-hydroxy acid." It is an over-the-counter medicated moisturizer used to treat itchy, dry skin. AmLactin may promote healthy skin through gentle exfoliation and hydration.

AmLactin Ingredients

AmLactin makes a variety of products, including a Rapid Relief Restoring Lotion, Ultra Smoothing Intensely Hydrating Cream, and a foot cream. They also make a very popular Daily Moisturizing Lotion that some people use to try and lighten skin. AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Lotion ingredients include: water, ammonium lactate, mineral oil, glycerin, dimethicone, steareth-21, glyceryl stearate SE, steareth-2, stearyl alcohol, xanthan Gum, and potassium sorbate.

Potential AmLactin Benefits

This alpha-hydroxy treatment may help treat a variety of skin conditions that cause dry, itchy, scaly skin, including:

How to Use AmLactin

AmLactin is generally used twice a day, but this varies, depending on the specific product and the skin condition it is being used for. Follow the directions on the label or as advised by your healthcare provider or dermatologist. Application directions for AmLactin and AmLactin XL are as follows:

  • Shake the bottle well before use to properly mix all ingredients.
  • Wash your hands before applying the cream to your skin.
  • Apply topically (directly on the skin) by gently rubbing a thin layer onto skin.
  • Store the bottle at room temperature away from direct light, heat, and moisture.

Be careful not to get the cream in your eyes, nose, or mouth. Do not apply AmLactin to any broken skin, such as a cut or puncture wound. If it accidentally gets on these areas, you may feel a stinging or burning sensation and irritate your skin. Rinse thoroughly with water and pat dry.

Can You Use AmLactin For Dark Spots?

According to the Merck Manual, hyperpigmentation (or dark spots) may be caused by aging, acne or wound scars, pregnancy, certain medications, thyroid disorders, or sun exposure. The treatments that are commonly used to eliminate dark spots are designed to quickly break down the outer layer of skin (epidermis) to slough away old skin cells and promote the growth of healthy, new, normal-pigmented skin.

Currently, there is little scientific evidence to show that AmLactin can effectively reduce hyperpigmented dark spots on the skin. In fact, there are some reports of ammonium lactate moisturizers causing dark spots in some people with sensitive skin.

One small study explored the use of one AmLactin ingredient (12% ammonium lactate) for treating acanthosis nigricans (AN). Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition characterized by areas of velvety, dark, thick skin on the body's creases and folds. Researchers found that ammonium lactate may effectively reduce dark spots associated with AN, but only when used in combination with tretinoin cream - a substance that is not found in AmLactin and is only available by prescription. Five study participants saw an 85% to 95% improvement when using the ammonium lactate and tretinoin regimen, but neither 12% ammonium lactate or tretinoin alone helped. This suggests the two ingredients may have a synergistic effect.

Due to the lack of research exploring the use of AmLactin to treat dark spots on the skin, it is best to avoid using it for this purpose unless advised by your dermatologist or primary care provider.

Effective Hyperpigmentation Treatments

Though AmLactin is an exfoliating moisturizer that helps eliminate dead skin cells, there is no evidence to suggest that it is effective at reducing dark spots on the skin. If you have hyperpigmented areas of the skin, talk to your healthcare provider or dermatologist about effective treatment methods.

Hyperpigmentation treatments that have been researched and studied by skincare experts include:

  • Azelaic acid
  • Chemical peels
  • Hydroquinone
  • Laser therapy
  • Retinoids

Topical hydroquinone creams are the gold standard treatment for reducing or eliminating hyperpigmented skin patches. However, you will need a prescription to get the topical lotion. If you have spots that concern you, speak to your healthcare provider about the best treatment strategy for you.

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Can AmLactin Reduce Dark Spots?