Topical ascorbic acid on photoaged skin. Clinical, topographical and ultrastructural evaluation: double-blind study vs. placebo.
Vitamin C is known for its antioxidant potential and activity in the collagen biosynthetic pathway. Photoprotective properties of topically applied vitamin C have also been demonstrated, placing this molecule as a potential candidate for use in the prevention and treatment of skin aging. A topically applied cream containing 5% vitamin C and its excipient were tested on healthy female volunteers presenting with photoaged skin on their low-neck and arms in view to evaluate efficacy and safety of such treatment. A double-blind, randomized trial was performed over a 6-month period, comparing the action of the vitamin C cream vs. excipient on photoaged skin. Clinical assessments included evaluation at the beginning and after 3 and 6 months of daily treatment. They were performed by the investigator and compared with the volunteer self-assessment. Skin relief parameters were determined on silicone rubber replicas performed at the same time-points. Cutaneous biopsies were obtained at the end of the trial and investigated using immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy. Clinical examination by a dermatologist as well as self-assessment by the volunteers disclosed a significant improvement, in terms of the ‘global score’, on the vitamin C-treated side compared with the control. A highly significant increase in the density of skin microrelief and a decrease of the deep furrows were demonstrated. Ultrastructural evidence of the elastic tissue repair was also obtained and well corroborated the favorable results of the clinical and skin surface examinations. Topical application of 5% vitamin C cream was an effective and well-tolerated treatment. It led to a clinically apparent improvement of the photodamaged skin and induced modifications of skin relief and ultrastructure, suggesting a positive influence of topical vitamin C on parameters characteristic for sun-induced skin aging.