If you’ve never head of hypochlorous acid, mark my words, you soon will. While the ingredient isn’t exactly new, it’s become extremely buzzy as of late. Why all the hype? Well, not only is it an effective skin-care ingredient, delivering a litany of benefits, but it’s also an effective disinfectant that even works against SARS-CoV-2 (aka the coronavirus). If that’s not newsworthy, I don’t know what is. Ahead, experts reveal everything you need to know about hypochlorous acid, and how to best use it in today’s COVID-19 world.
As mentioned, it’s a medical mainstay. In dermatology, it’s used to prep the skin for injectables and help heal small wounds, says Dr. Chimento. In hospitals, HOCl is often used as a disinfectant and as an irrigant in surgery (translation: it’s used on an open wound surface to hydrate, remove debris, and aid in visual examination), says Kelly Killeen, M.D., a double board-certified plastic surgeon at Cassileth Plastic Surgery & Skin Care in Beverly Hills.
To that point, remember how I said that HOCl has anti-viral effects? Well, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is officially one of the viruses that HOCl can takedown. The EPA recently added the ingredient to their official list of disinfectants effective against the coronavirus. Now that this has happened, there will be a lot more non-toxic cleaning products coming out that contain hypochlorous acid, points out Dr. Henry. And, because creating HOCl is fairly simple—it’s made by electrically charging salt, water, and vinegar, a process known as electrolysis—there are many at-home cleaning systems that use the ingredient already on the market, adds Dr. Chimento. Try Force of Nature Starter Kit (Buy It, $70, forceofnatureclean.com), which is an EPA-registered disinfectant & sanitizer made with HOCl that kills 99.9% of germs including norovirus, influenza A, salmonella, MRSA, staph, and listeria.
It’s also worth noting that the HOCl that’s found in skin-care products, cleaning products, and even operating rooms is all the same; it’s just the concentrations that vary. The lowest concentrations are usually used for wound healing, the highest for disinfecting, and the topical formulations fall somewhere in the middle, explains Dr. Killeen.
TL;DR—All you really need to know is that hypochlorous acid is one skin-care—and cleaning—ingredient definitely worth seeking out during the time of coronavirus.