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Vitamin A Cream Helps Reduce Wrinkles Associated With Natural Skin Aging
Applying vitamin A to the skin appears to improve the wrinkles associated
with natural aging and may help to promote the production of skin-building
compounds, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Dermatology,
one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
The wrinkles and brown spots associated with aging appear first and most
prominently on skin exposed to the sun, according to background information in
the article. "Human skin not exposed to the sun also ages but less
dramatically," the authors write. "In intrinsic, natural or chronological aging,
skin loses its youthful appearance by becoming thinner, laxer and more finely
wrinkled. These changes are readily appreciated by inspecting the upper inner
arm." Thinner skin results from a reduced production of the protein collagen and
may slow wound healing, presenting a public health issue. "Safe and effective
therapies to reverse the atrophy of natural skin aging do not exist currently,"
the authors note.
Reza Kafi, M.D., then of the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor,
and now of Stanford Medical School, Palo Alto, Calif., and colleagues assessed
the effectiveness of vitamin A (retinol) lotion in 36 elderly individuals
(average age 87 years). Researchers applied a lotion containing 0.4 percent
retinol to participants' right or left upper inner arms, and lotion with no
retinol to the other arm, up to three times a week for 24 weeks. Wrinkles,
roughness and overall severity of aging were each graded on a scale from zero
(none) to nine (severe) before treatment and two, four, eight, 16 and 24 weeks
after beginning treatment. In addition, 4-millimeter biopsy specimens of skin
were taken from both arms at the beginning and end of the 24-week treatment
A total of 23 individuals completed the full study and 13 withdrew from the
study prior to completion. When the researchers included the individuals who had
dropped out of the study by assuming their skin did not change after their last
measurement, wrinkles, roughness and overall aging severity were all
significantly reduced in the retinol-treated arm compared with the control arm.
The skin biopsies revealed that the retinol increased the production of
glycosaminoglycan and procollagen, structural components of the skin.
"Topical retinol improves fine wrinkles associated with natural aging," the
authors conclude. "Significant induction of glycosaminoglycan, which is known to
retain substantial water, and increased collagen production are most likely
responsible for wrinkle effacement [reduction]. With greater skin matrix
synthesis [production of compounds that form new skin], retinol-treated aged
skin is more likely to withstand skin injury and ulcer formation along with
(Arch Dermatol. 2007;143:606-612)
This study was supported in part by grants from the Babcock Endowment for
Dermatologic Research, the Merck-American Federation for Aging Research, Alpha
Omega Alpha Student Research Fellowship and the National Institutes of Health.
Please see the article for additional information, including other authors,
author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and
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