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Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2004 Jan-Feb;17(1):3-16.

Factors affecting the formation of a skin reservoir for topically applied solutes.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Queensland, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Ipswich Road, Buranda, Queensland 4102, Australia.


The reservoir function of the skin is an important determinant of the duration of action of a topical solute. The reservoir can exist in the stratum corneum, in the viable avascular tissue (viable epidermis and supracapillary dermis) and in the dermis. A steroid reservoir in the stratum corneum has been demonstrated by the reactivation of a vasoconstrictor effect by occlusion or application of a placebo cream to the skin some time after the original topical application of steroid. Other solutes have also been reported to show a reservoir effect in the skin after topical application. A simple compartmental model is used to understand why reactivation of vasoconstriction some time after a topical steroid application shows dependency on time, topical solute concentration and the product used to cause reactivation. The model is also used to show which solutes are likely to show a reservoir effect and could be potentially affected by desquamation, especially when the turnover of the skin is abnormally rapid. A similar form of the model can be used to understand the promotion of reservoir function in the viable tissue and in the dermis in terms of effective removal by blood perfusing the tissues.

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