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Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2002 Nov-Dec;68(6):320-2.

Efficacy of beta-carotene topical application in melasma: an open clinical trial.

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Department of Dermatology and STD, Dr RML Hospital, New Delhi-110 001, India.


B-carotene, a structural analogue of vitamin A, works as an agonist of this vitamin, by reversibly sticking the chemical mechanism of melanogenesis by saturating the nuclear receptors of melanocytes and/or binding protein. To study the safety and efficacy of b-carotene lotion on topical application in melasma, clinically diagnosed 31 adults (26F and 5M) with melasma were included in this trial. All of them applied b-carotene lotion daily, morning and evening to the affected areas. Twenty six of them completed regular 8 weeks treatment. Nine of them continued same treatment for 16 more weeks. All cases were evaluated clinically using melasma intensity (MPi) index (Grade I, II, III) and size of the lesion. Clinical photograph was taken for each case at 0 week, 8th week and 24th week. Initial 8 weeks treatment revealed that the single case with grade-I pigmentation included in this study recovered completely. Two out of 13 cases with grade-II pigmentation, showed no change, in 10 cases, pigmentation became lighter to grade-I (76.9%) and one case recovered completely. Out of 12 grade-III cases, one did not show any change, 10 (83.3%) converted to grade-II and one to grade-I. At the end of 24 weeks, all the nine cases (2 grade-II and 7 grade III) showed further clearing of the pigmentation to the next lower grade. Side-effects like mild erythema and local irritation were observed in two cases each, who were advised to discontinue treatment as per the protocol. In conclusion, topical application of b-carotene lotion appears to bean effective and safe for melasma. Longer duration of application is associated with better result.

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