WebMD Medical News
Louise Chang, MD
May 22, 2007 -- Retinol lotion may ease the appearance of fine wrinkles in
elderly skin, according to a new study on aging skin.
The study comes from skin experts including Sewon Kang, MD, of the
University of Michigan's dermatology department.
They added retinol, which is derived from vitamin A, to an over-the-counter
moisturizer. For comparison, they also made a placebo lotion containing no
Kang's team put the lotions in separate, identical bottles so no one could
tell which bottle contained the retinol lotion.
The researchers' lotions were tested by 36 healthy people who were at least
80 years old at two senior centers in Michigan.
First, the researchers photographed the skin in participants' inner upper
arm -- a spot not likely to be affected by sun damage. Participants also got a
skin biopsy from their inner upper arm.
After that, half of the elders got the retinol lotion; the others got the
placebo lotion. They were scheduled to use their assigned lotion on their inner
upper arm three times weekly for six months.
At the end of the six-month study, participants got another skin biopsy and
more photographs of their inner upper arm.
The elders who had used the retinol lotion had a reduction in the appearance
of fine wrinkles in their inner upper arm. Those changes started after four
weeks of retinol treatment and lasted throughout the study.
Wrinkles didn't change for those in the placebo group.
The before-and-after skin biopsies show that retinol treatment boosted
structural components in the elders' skin.
Retinol can irritate the skin. By the end of the study, most patients in the
retinol group had some skin dryness or irritation. As instructed, they cut back
on their retinol use in light of those side effects.
Retinol didn't erase wrinkles forever. The researchers followed 11
participants for six months after retinol treatment ended. The skin differences
seen in the study faded during that time.
The study appears in the Archives of Dermatology.
The journal notes that Kang and three other researchers are named as
inventors on a patent application for methods to treat aging skin.
SOURCES: Kafi, R. Archives of Dermatology, May 2007; vol 143: pp
606-612. News release, JAMA/Archives.
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