Egg whites contain large quantities of proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Egg whites are low in carbohydrates and very rich in protein, which make them very popular nutritional choice for people who are trying to lose weight and/or build muscle mass. Fresh egg whites are also commonly used for topical treatments in Naturopathic medicine. Egg Whites contain several enzymes and other molecules that have antimicrobial properties. Face masks that contain fresh egg whites are a popular Naturopathic acne treatment.
Egg Whites from fresh, uncooked eggs contain several proteins that can inhibit the growth of bacteria, including the acne-causing P. acnes bacterium. One of these proteins is an enzyme called Lysozyme which breaks down the cell walls of gram-positive bacteria. Coincidentally, the two bacteria that are usually behind acne breakouts, Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus, are both gram positive bacteria and are susceptible to this enzyme. Egg Whites also contain additional proteins which may have antimicrobial properties, such as Cystatin and Conalbumin.
Egg whites are usually prepared into a mask and allowed to dry on the face. They can be mixed with many other ingredients that may have biological activity, such as activated charcoal, clay, colloidal silver or essential oils. Alternatively, Egg White extracts containing the active proteins can be prepared and added to a different preparation. The Lysozyme enzyme is also available alone, it is most often used in beer and wine making to prevent bacterial contamination during fermentation.
Although Egg White masks are a fairly popular Naturopathic acne treatment, there has been little research into whether they are effective. Many people have reported that their acne symptoms improved after beginning regular application of Egg White masks. But there do not appear to be any reliable scientific reports that indicate Egg White masks are an effective acne treatment. Nonetheless, Egg White masks are unlikely to worsen acne symptoms and might be worth trying for interested individuals.
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Egg Whites @ Wikipedia
Comparative antibacterial activity of avian egg white protein extracts. Wellman-Labadie, et al. 2008.
Antibacterial activity of hen egg white lysozyme against Listeria monocytogenes Scott A in foods. Hughey, et al. 1989.
Antimicrobial activity of lysozyme against bacteria involved in food spoilage and food-borne disease. Hughey, et al. 1987.
The antibacterial activity of the egg white protein conalbumin. Feeney, et al. 1952.
Antimicrobial activity of chicken egg white cystatin. Wesierska, et al. 2005.
Susceptibility of Propionibacterium acnes to killing and degradation by human neutrophils and monocytes in vitro. Webster, et al. 1985.
The chicken egg white proteome. Mann. 2007.