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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Topical tretinoin (retinoic acid) therapy for hyperpigmented lesions caused by inflammation of the skin in black patients.

BACKGROUND AND METHODS. Irregular disfiguring skin hyperpigmentation due to inflammation may develop in black persons. We investigated the treatment of this hyperpigmentation with topical tretinoin (0.1 percent retinoic acid cream). Fifty-four subjects completed a 40-week randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled study. Twenty-four subjects applied tretinoin daily to the face, arms, or both areas, and 30 subjects applied vehicle cream. At base line and after 40 weeks of treatment, each subject's post-inflammatory hyperpigmented lesions and normal skin were assessed by clinical and colorimetric evaluations and by analysis of biopsy specimens. RESULTS. The facial post-inflammatory hyperpigmented lesions of the tretinoin-treated subjects were significantly lighter after the 40 weeks of therapy than those of the vehicle-treated subjects (P < 0.001); overall improvement was first noted after four weeks of tretinoin treatment. At the end of treatment, colorimetry demonstrated a 40 percent lightening of the lesions toward normal skin color in the tretinoin-treated lesions, as compared with an 18 percent lightening in vehicle-treated lesions (P = 0.05). The epidermal melanin content in the lesions decreased by 23 percent with tretinoin and by 3 percent with vehicle (P = 0.24). Normal skin was minimally lightened by tretinoin as compared with vehicle, according to both clinical evaluation (0.1 vs. -0.1 unit change on an 8-point scale; P = 0.055) and colorimetry (P < 0.001). Retinoid dermatitis developed in 12 of the 24 tretinoin-treated subjects who completed the study (50 percent) and in 1 tretinoin-treated subject who withdrew from the study, but diminished as the study progressed. CONCLUSIONS. Topical application of tretinoin significantly lightens post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and, to a clinically minimal but statistically significant degree, lightens normal skin in black persons.[1]


  1. Topical tretinoin (retinoic acid) therapy for hyperpigmented lesions caused by inflammation of the skin in black patients. Bulengo-Ransby, S.M., Griffiths, C.E., Kimbrough-Green, C.K., Finkel, L.J., Hamilton, T.A., Ellis, C.N., Voorhees, J.J. N. Engl. J. Med. (1993) [Pubmed]
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