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Dermatology. 2014;228(4):314-25. doi: 10.1159/000360527. Epub 2014 May 9.

Topical retinoids in skin ageing: a focused update with reference to sun-induced epidermal vitamin A deficiency.

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Swiss Centre for Applied Human Toxicology (SCAHT), University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.


Vitamin A is an important constituent of the epidermis, where it plays a crucial role in epidermal turnover. A deficiency of epidermal vitamin A may be the consequence of nutritional vitamin A deficiency, exposure to sunlight or any UV source, oxidative stress or chronological ageing. As a consequence, any treatment aiming at increasing epidermal vitamin A would exert a protective effect against these deleterious conditions. Retinoids may counteract some deleterious actions of UV radiation by physical and biological mechanisms. Topical natural retinoic acid precursors such as retinaldehyde or retinol are less irritant than acidic retinoids and may prevent epidermal vitamin A deficiency due to nutritional deficiency, exposure to sunlight or any condition leading to free radical production. Retinoids may be combined with other compounds with complementary actions against ageing, nutritional deficiency and cancer, such as antioxidants, to potentiate their beneficial effects in the skin.

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