The fresh garlic bulb contains alliin, alicin and volatile oils and when garlic clove is crushed, the odorless compound alliin is converted to allicin via the enzyme allinase. This compound has been used in the past to treat skin infections such as athlete’s foot; however, too much exposure to garlic can result in blistered skin.
Adverse reactions, related to garlic are potentially consist of irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, protein contact dermatitis, zosteriform dermatitis, contact urticaria and induction of pemphigus.
Garlic has a high sulfur content, arginine, oligosaccharides, flavonoids, as well as selenium and vitamin E. Most of the studies done on garlic and how great it is, have to do with eating it, not using an extract of garlic applied to skin. However, that hasn’t stopped companies (like Pierre Fabre) from registering patents on garlic, some for treating cellulite.
Of the dermatological studies on garlic extract, one review has summarized all dermatologic-oriented in vitro and in vivo experiments and clinical trials on garlic preparations. Extensive literatures search was carried out and twenty three studies were included.
The results suggest that oral administration of garlic is effective on immunologic properties, cutaneous microcirculation, protection against UVB and cancer treatment. Additionally, topical application of garlic extract can potentially be effective on psoriasis, alopecia areata, keloid scar, wound healing, cutaneous corn, viral and fungal infection, leishmaniasis, skin aging and rejuvenation. Clinical effectiveness of oral and topical garlic extract is not sufficiently and meticulously explored as so far.