Monolaurin and Skin Infections
Last Updated: March 12, 2019 | First Published: August 24, 2018
Reviewed by: Dr. Rosmy Barrios, M.D.
Skin and mucosa are known as the barriers fighting against pathogens that the body is exposed to. Without this barrier, the body may be at an elevated risk of infection.
Skin and Mucosa Health
Mucosa (mucous membranes) are layered over internal organs to help protect against various pathogens and also helps prevent body tissues from becoming dehydrated. Mucus membranes rely on nutrition. The integrity of these membranes can be compromised by various things such as a lack of proper nutrition, or deficiency in some vitamins or minerals. (Ref #1)
Monolaurin, which can be metabolized in the body by ingesting foods rich in lauric acid, helps bolster the immune system by disabling a virus from reproducing. The monoglyceride binds itself onto the pathogen’s membrane and slowly dissolves it (Ref #9).
A study in the Journal of Dermatitis found that coconut oil, the main source of monolaurin, is more powerful against Atopic Dermatitis when compared to other oils. (Ref #2) Another study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology has demonstrated that monolaurin extracts are potent against several bacterial species that can cause skin infections, including Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus spp. In some experiments, the monolaurin extracts were more potent against these bacteria as compared to conventional antibiotics. (Ref #3) On human skin, monolaurin may act an antiseptic with broad-spectrum effects.
Common Types Of Skin Infections
Skin infections can be bacterial, parasitic, viral or fungal.
Bacterial infections mainly involve soft tissue beneath the skin and skin itself. An example of a bacterial skin infection which Monolaurin has been research as a potential treatment is Staphylococcus Aureus related infections. Monolaurin was shown to inhibit the activity of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria in laboratory studies. (Ref #4)
The skin can also be infected by parasites. Giardia lamblia is a parasite which Monolaurin has been shown to inactivate, and may even be taken before exposure to prevent illness (Ref # 5).
This occurs when a virus within the body reflects symptoms on the skin.
Shingles – a reactivated virus that causes chickenpox – may be a type of herpes virus which is susceptible to Monolaurin (Ref #6). Additionally, Molluscum Contagiosum – which causes multiple raised bumps on the skin – has been studied in relation to Monolaurin in Argentinean studies (Ref #7).
Fungus can be found all over the body where the surfaces of skin meet. When monolaurin is used to help skin infections, it may act as an antiseptic that helps inactivate fungal overgrowths.
Yeast Infections (Candidiasis) – a fungus known as candida that lives on the skin – is extremely common and has been studied with Monolaurin for its potential immune response (Ref #8).
Liu J, Bian Z, Kuijpers-Jagtman AM, Von den Hoff JW. Skin and oral mucosa equivalents: construction and performance. Orthod Craniofac Res. 2010 Feb;13(1):11-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-6343.2009.01475.x. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20078790
Verallo-Rowell, Vermén M.; Dillague, Kristine M.; Syah-Tjundawan, Bertha S. Novel Antibacterial and Emollient Effects of Coconut and Virgin Olive Oils in Adult Atopic Dermatitis. Dermatitis: November-December 2008 - Volume 19 - Issue 6 - p 308–315 doi: 10.2310/6620.2008.08052
Carpo BG, Verallo-Rowell VM, Kabara J. Novel antibacterial activity of monolaurin compared with conventional antibiotics against organisms from skin infections: an in vitro study. J Drugs Dermatol. 2007 Oct;6(10):991-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17966176
Ruzin A, Novick RP. “Equivalence of lauric acid and glycerol monolaurate as inhibitors of signal transduction in Staphylococcus aureus.” J Bacteriol. 2000 May;182(9):2668-71.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10762277
Fahmy ZH, Aly E, Shalsh I, Mohamed AH. The effect of medium chain saturated fatty acid (monolaurin) on levels of the cytokines on experimental animal in Entamoeba histolytica and Giardia lamblia infection. African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. January 2014.
Hill, JW. "Natural Treatments for Genital Herpes, Cold Sores and Shingles: A Review of the Scientific and Medical Literature". Clear Springs Press; 2nd edition (January 7, 2012)
Chua E, Verallo-Rowell VM. Coconut Oil Extract (2% Monolaurin) Cream in the Treatment of Molluscum Contagiosum: A Randomized Double-Blind Vehicle-Controlled Trial. WCD, October 2007, Argentina
Bergsson G, Arnfinnsson J, Steingrímsson O, and Thormar H. In Vitro Killing of Candida albicans by Fatty Acids and Monoglycerides. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. 2001 November; 45(11): 3209–3212
Isaacs CE, Kim KS, Thormar H. Inactivation of enveloped viruses in human bodily fluids by purified lipids. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1994 Jun 6;724:457-64.