The Role of Topical Retinoids in the Treatment of Photoaging
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- Stratigos, A.J. & Katsambas, A.D. Drugs (2005) 65: 1061. doi:10.2165/00003495-200565080-00003
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Aging of the skin is a complex biological process which is influenced by the interaction of several intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic or chronological aging is an inevitable, genetically programmed process, of unclear underlying mechanism, for which no prevention or effective treatment is currently available. Photoaging refers to the gross and microscopic cutaneous changes that are induced by cumulative exposure to UV radiation and are superimposed on the background of chronological aging. Although primarily an aesthetic problem with significant psychological effects, photoaging constitutes the background for the development of precancerous and cancerous skin lesions.
Overwhelming clinical and histological evidence indicate that certain structural changes induced by excessive sun exposure can be reversed, to some extent, by the use of topical retinoids. A number of retinoid compounds, for example tretinoin, isotretinoin, retinaldehyde and tazarotene, have been employed for the treatment of photoaged skin, and demonstrate beneficial clinical and histological effects. Adverse effects have been limited to an irritant reaction of variable intensity presenting with dryness, scaling and erythema. Ongoing research will enhance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that determine the effects of retinoids on photodamaged skin and contribute to the employment of new, more effective and less irritating retinoid compounds.