Papaya (Carica papaya) is a fruiting tree that is native to Central America. The Papaya fruit is an important food source and is cultivated commercially in tropical regions around the world. In addition to its culinary applications, the Papaya fruit is widely used in Naturopathic and traditional medicine.

Preparations from fresh Papaya fruits are occasionally used as a topical Naturopathic treatment for acne. Also, Papaya extracts are commonly added to commercial anti-acne skin care products.

Papaya fruits contain several enzymes and phytochemicals that may be useful for the treatment of acne. Papaya is a rich source of a proteolytic (digestive) enzyme called Papain. Papain can break down proteins and it is used in topical Naturopathic treatments as an enzymatic exfoliant. For some people with acne, masks and face washes containing unprocessed Papaya may help even skin tone, exfoliate rough patches and possibly even reduce the frequency of minor acne lesions. Papaya fruits also contain many phytochemicals, including, benzyl isothiocyanates, carotenoids and polyphenols.

Although some people have reported that topical treatments containing fresh Papaya or Papaya extracts helped to improve their acne symptoms, there has been no rigorous scientific research on the efficacy of Papaya as an acne treatment. Overall, topical preparations containing Papaya may help improve skin tone, but are unlikely to dramatically improve acne symptoms for most individuals. More research is needed to determine whether topical Papaya formulations are a useful addition to a holistic Naturopathic acne treatment regimen.


Phytochemical studies on Carica papaya leaf juice. Akhila, et al. 2015.
Topical herbal therapies an alternative and complementary choice to combat acne. Kapoor, et al. 2011.
Antimicrobial activity of some tropical fruit wastes (guava, starfruit, banana, papaya, passionfruit, langsat, duku, rambutan and rambai). Mohamed, et al. 1994.
Papaya: A gifted nutraceutical plant-a critical review of recent human health research. Kaliyaperumal, et al. 2014.
A review on medicinal properties of Carica papaya Linn. Vij, et al. 2015.
Medicinal Plants used as Anti-Acne Agents by Tribal and Non-Tribal People of Tripura, India. Dey, et al. 2014.
Treatment of mild to moderate acne with a fixed combination of hydroxypinacolone retinoate, retinol glycospheres and papain glycospheres. Veraldi, et al. 2015.