Effect of topically applied evening primrose oil on epidermal barrier function in atopic dermatitis as a function of vehicle

Arzneimittelforschung. 1999 Jul;49(7):635-42. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1300475.


The aim of this study was to establish the effect on barrier function in atopic dermatitis of topical evening primrose oil in an amphiphilic and a stable water-in-oil emulsion. The studies were vehicle-controlled in two populations of 20 atopic subjects. Barrier function was assessed in terms of transepidermal water loss and stratum corneum hydration after a 4-week treatment period and a 1-week treatment-free period. A barrier function test with sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and nicotinic acid ester was also carried out. Evening primrose oil proved to have a stabilising effect on the stratum corneum barrier, but this was apparent only with the water-in-oil emulsion, not the amphiphilic emulsion. The choice of vehicle is therefore an extremely important factor in the efficacy of topically applied evening primrose oil.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / drug therapy*
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Emulsions
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linoleic Acids
  • Male
  • Nicotinic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Nicotinic Acids / pharmacokinetics
  • Nicotinic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Oenothera biennis
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Plant Oils
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin Absorption / drug effects
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate / administration & dosage
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate / therapeutic use
  • Water Loss, Insensible
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Emulsions
  • Fatty Acids, Essential
  • Linoleic Acids
  • Nicotinic Acids
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Plant Oils
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate
  • evening primrose oil
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid