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Study suggests vitamin E is the answer to reducing photo-induced skin damage

By Andrew McDougall , 24-Jan-2012
Last updated on 24-Jan-2012 at 16:27 GMT

Study suggests vitamin E is the answer to reducing photo-induced skin damage

Italian scientists have found that the use of a new topical formulation containing vitamin E is effective and shows promise in reducing photo-induced damage.

Vitamin A is well-known in dermatology for its actions, including the ultraviolet radiation absorbing property, however the new study suggests that a topical formulation containing the vitamin E compounds tocotrienols and tocopherols, could be more effective.

“The pre-treatment with the vitamin E formulation highly protects against photosensitivity, and all reactions to irradiation were significantly lower in the areas treated with the topical vitamin E formulation compared to those treated with the simple vehicle or vitamin A,” notes the study.

Tocotrienols and tocopherols

“The use of a new topical formulation containing significant concentrations of tocotrienols and tocopherols represents a promising strategy to reduce the photo-induced skin damage.”

The findings, published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, also suggest that tocotrienols, part of the vitamin E family, have superior activity to tocopherols, a more widely used vitamin E compound.

Tocotrienols have been sparsely studied up until recently, but the new research suggests there may be a use for them particularly in sunscreen, moisturisers and other skin care products.

Photosensitivity testing

In view of experimental evidence for the photoprotective properties of these antioxidants, the researchers, from the University of Milan, evaluated i30 patients with photosensitivity, the prophylactic efficacy of a new topical agent, containing tocopherols 10 per cent and tocotrienols 0.3 per cent, compared with retinol, simple vehicle and untreated areas.

After determination of the minimal UVB erythema dose (MED), two areas of 2×2cm were selected on the rear end of each subject, one of which was treated with the antioxidant formulation whereas the other field did not undergo any treatment. Both areas were then irradiated with a twofold MED.

As further controls, two similar areas, selected on the forearm of 15 patients, were photo-irradiated similarly.

An assessment of the reactions was then carried out assigning scores indicative of their intensity.

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