The use of retinoids in the treatment of photoaging


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Professor Christopher EM Griffiths, MD, FRCP, Dermatology Center, Irving Building, Hope Hospital, Manchester, M6 8HD, UK, or email:


ABSTRACT:  Photoaging describes the clinical and histologic consequences of chronic sun exposure, the key features of which – wrinkles and mottled hyperpigmentation – are frequently and erroneously attributed to the aging process. Although a number of surgical procedures can improve the clinical appearance of photoaged skin, the only medical therapy with proved benefit derived from randomized clinical trial evidence is the use of topical retinoids, particularly tretinoin, isotretinoin, and tazarotene. Retinoids are capable not only of repairing photoaged skin at both the clinical and biochemical levels but their use may prevent photoaging. There is in addition emerging evidence that topical retinoids could be beneficial in the treatment of intrinsically aged skin.