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Acta Derm Venereol. 2017 Feb 8;97(2):182-187. doi: 10.2340/00015555-2493.

Effects of Locally Applied Glycerol and Xylitol on the Hydration, Barrier Function and Morphological Parameters of the Skin.

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Department of Dermatology and Allergology, University of Szeged, 6720 Szeged, Hungary.


Glycerol and xylitol hydrate the skin and improve its barrier function over a short period. We studied the effects of glycerol and xylitol on the physiological properties and morphology of the skin after longer-term application. Twelve volunteers with dry skin were examined. Three areas on the arms were determined. Area 1 served as untreated control. The vehicle was applied to area 2, while area 3 was treated twice daily with a formulation containing glycerol (5%) and xylitol (5%) for 14 days. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL), hydration and biomechanical properties of the skin were monitored. Biopsies were taken for routine histology and immunohistochemistry for filaggrin and matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1). The polyols increased the skin hydration and protein quantity of filaggrin, elevated the interdigitation index, decreased the TEWL and improved the biomechanical properties of the skin, but did not change the protein expression of MMP-1. A combination of glycerol and xylitol can be useful additional therapy for dry skin.

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