Can Snail Mucin Cause Acne?

In this blog, we will provide an insight into snail mucin, a compound secreted by snails that is utilized in skincare products. We will explore its composition, benefits, and its potential role in treating acne. The blog will discuss the causes of acne and how snail mucin might interact with these factors.
Greta Daniskova

Greta Daniskova

Greta is a BSc Biomedical Science student at the University of Westminster, London.

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What is Snail Mucin?

Snail Mucin (slime) is a slippery layer secreted from the ‘slime glands’ on a snail’s body. This slimy fluid performs two functions. On one hand, it’s lubricant: a slug moves by gliding along in a ‘self-lubricated’ manner, and snails digest food without actually chewing it because they secrete digestive enzymes onto it. On the other, it’s adhesive: ‘snail slime’ acts like glue, whatever it sticks to becomes gummed up [1].

Snail Mucin is a mixture of mucin glycoproteins and several beneficial compounds, including allantoin, collagen, elastin, glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid. These compounds end up getting isolated for use within skincare products, which instead of using sheep mucus or human plasma as the base ingredient, have started to use mucins – isolated and transformed into active components [1].

What does Snail Mucin do?

Beyond structural integrity (by protecting the snail against microorganisms and through adhesion), Snail Mucin can also help with secreted substances such as lubrication [2]. Its applications extend into chemistry, biology, biotechnology and biomedicine.

Its use in cosmetics (skincare) is believed to aid healing by decreasing inflammation and speeding up tissue recovery for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema. Snail mucin also raises healthy fibroblast count (a cell type responsible for the formation of connective tissue), as well as promotes angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels) [1].

Furthermore, snail mucin has been shown to enhance skin hydration – a factor that contributes to preventing and treating eczema flares, and restoring the integrity of skin barrier function in people with inflammatory skin conditions [1].

Finally, in addition to skincare, there is also evidence to support the use of Snail Mucin in wound healing, as an antimicrobial agent, and as an aid in the development of surgical glues and treatments for gastric ulcers [2, 3].

What is Acne?

Acne! is a skin condition that develops when hair follicles become blocked. It is characterized by the emergence of raised irregularities of the skin, known as pimples, which may be formed on the face, neck, back, chest and shoulders. It affects people of all ages, but it is more common in teenagers and young adults. Strictly speaking, it is not serious but it may leave some scarring and is often accompanied by a greatly reduced quality of life [4, 5].

What Causes Acne?

The exact mechanisms of Acne aren’t fully understood, although it can be caused by an interplay of factors. One of the major causes is the overproduction of oil by sebaceous glands, contributing to the clogging of hair follicles. Such overproduction of oil can result from a change in hormones, including from puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause [4].

Another is the build-up of dead skin cells in the pores, which mix with the oils to form what’s known as a plug. Bacteria start thriving in this combo, and inflammation kicks in, leading to the formation of a pimple [4, 6, 7].

However medications and cosmetics can also do this; in particular, oil-based products can be a cause of acne. Other environmental factors, such as pollution, and lifestyle factors, including diet and over-cleansing and over-moisturizing the skin, can play a part in the formation of Acne [6].

Can Snail Mucin Cause Acne?

Snail Mucin is a byproduct of snails and is being used as an ingredient in skincare products that apply to Acne management. Allantoin, collagen, elastin, glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid are some of the beneficial compounds present in this mucin and they are known to be beneficial to the skin [1].

It’s been reported that certain peptides, synthesized from the mucus of the giant African snail, possess antimicrobial activity against Propionibacterium acnes, the bacterium that is strongly implicated as the main cause of the inflammatory stage of acne vulgaris. Hence, it’s possible that snail mucin could prevent acne by killing the bacterium [8].

Also, snail mucus has been said to possess anti-inflammatory activity. Inflammation is a critical component of acne development, and agents that suppress inflammation may help to control Acne [9].

But Snail Mucin has no biological plausibility for the treatment of Acne. Even if we set aside a lack of biological plausibility and non-specific benefits lacking in a known mechanism of action, topical Snail Mucin might not be suitable for all, for example, consider the case of an allergic reaction (itching, rash, hives and congestion being common complications) to Snail Mucin [1].


To conclude, even though the available studies evidence a beneficial outcome for Snail Mucin on Acne, more clinical trials are still required, to assess its pros and cons extensively.

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Greta Daniskova

Greta Daniskova

Greta is a 2nd-year student currently pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Westminster in London. Currently, in her second year of undergraduate studies, she exhibits a keen interest in the dynamic field of healthcare. With a focus on understanding the intricacies of human biology and disease mechanisms, Greta is driven by a desire to contribute to advancements in medical research and patient care.