Wrinkles, worries, more wrinkles. Well, it doesnt have to be that way always. For experts at the Michigan University Medical School say that they have successfully managed to reduce wrinkles significantly in elderly people by using a cream containing vitamin A.
Not only did the cream make skin appear more youthful, tissue samples from 23 people revealed it boosted levels of important skin repair chemicals.
Michigan researchers have described their findings in the journal Archives of Dermatology.
As people age, their skin produces less collagen, the main protein of connective tissue in animals and the most abundant protein in mammals, making up about 25% of the total protein content.
Consequently the skin tends to become thinner and less smooth. It is this inevitable natural process the Michigan team has tried to reverse.
It team does not identify the cream it used, it only says that the cream contained "retinol."
Retinol is a type of Vitamin A, which is very beneficial to humans. It is considered to be essential for proper vision and bone growth. Retinol has been successfully used as a treatment for acne and skin ailments.
Researchers recruited 36 people with an average age of 87 and, over a 24-week period, asked them apply the retinol cream on the inner arm on one side, and a cream with no active component on the other.
After the 24 weeks, the skin appearance was assessed, and a small sample taken for analysis.
Underarm skin was chosen because it suffers less exposure to the sun, which can accelerate skin ageing.
Not everyone finished the study, and it was assumed by the researchers that the 13 people who dropped out had not seen any benefits in how their skin looked.
However, even with this added in to the results, there was a significant improvement between the retinol and non-retinol arms.
The small skin samples take
n supported this - showing an increase in the production of glycosaminoglycan and procollagen, two skin components, in the samples exposed to retinol.
One of these is thought to improve the appearance of skin by retaining extra water and "plumping" it up, while the other is a basic building block of skin structure, so could in theory be helping repair it.
In addition, there may be other benefits to the elderly person aside from vanity - the researchers believe that their rejuvenated skin samples might be better able to withstand damage and less susceptible to ulceration, a frequent problem for older people in poor health.
"Safe and effective therapies to reverse the atrophy of natural skin aging do not exist currently," they wrote.
This is not the first study though to support the use of vitamin A creams to improve the appearance of ageing skin.
Earlier this year, a favourable report from Manchester University scientists on a "No.7" cream, screened as part of a BBC Horizon documentary, caused stores to run out of the product within days.
A spokesman for the British Skin Foundation, said a type of vitamin A cream, known as Tretinoin, was already prescribed by dermatologists to treat skin ageing.
"They work by improving the topmost layers of the skin, increasing cells production and helping to increase collagen which gives the skin its structure."
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