Evaluation of Skin Irritation of Acids Commonly Used in Cleaners in 3D-Reconstructed Human Epidermis Model, KeraSkinTM

Jee Hyun Hwang, Seungmi Lee, Ho Geon Lee, Dalwoong Choi, Kyung Min Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cleaners such as dishwashing liquids contain various chemicals that cause skin damage. Alkaline agents used in cleaners alter the lipid composition of the skin and damage the skin barrier. However, little is known about the effects of acids used in cleaners on the skin. Here, we investigated the effects of acidic pH on the skin and evaluated the skin irritation of acids commonly used in cleaners with a 3D-reconstructed human epidermis model, KeraSkinTM, according to OECD TG439. First, to examine the effects of acidic pH, we evaluated the skin irritation of citrate buffers (0.1 M, McIlvaine buffer) prepared in a wide pH range (pH 1.5–6.0). Surprisingly, cell viability was not significantly affected even at pH 1.5, reflecting that the acidity alone may not be sufficient to induce skin irritation. Even after longer exposure (180 min), the cell viability was not reduced below 50%, a cutoff to determine an irritant. To examine the effect of the anionic part, several organic acids used in cleaners (citric acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, and succinic acid) were examined. These organic acids also failed to reduce viability at 0.1 M. However, at 1 M, most of the acids tested, except lactic acid, were determined to be skin irritants. Histology further supported the skin irritancy of acids at 1 M. Similarly, inorganic acids (hydrogen bromide, hydrogen chloride, nitric acid, and sulfuric acid) were determined to be irritants only at 1 M. In the case of alkaline agents, pH and concentrations were also important factors to determine the skin irritancy, although the epidermal structure and lipids were more damaged than acids. Collectively, we demonstrated that both the pH and concentration are important factors for the skin irritancy of acids, shedding an important insight into the mechanism of skin irritation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number558
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • acids
  • alkalis
  • cleaner
  • pH
  • reconstructed human epidermis model
  • skin irritation


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