The ability of betaine to reduce the irritating effects of detergents assessed visually, histologically and by bioengineering methods

Skin Res Technol. 2003 Feb;9(1):50-8. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0846.2003.00367.x.


Background/aims: A novel approach for reducing the undesired irritating properties of detergents on skin might be offered by betaine, which is a natural product derived from the sugar beet. The aim of the study was to explore the ability of betaine to reduce the irritating effects of two surfactants, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and cocoamidopropylbetaine (CAPB). For evaluation of changes in skin reactions visual scoring, electrical impedance, transepidermal water loss and histology were used.

Methods: Twenty-one healthy subjects were patch tested for 24 h with SLS and CAPB alone and together with betaine, betaine alone, and the two controls distilled water and an unoccluded test site on both volar forearms. Responses were evaluated by measuring electrical impedance and transepidermal water loss before exposure and 24 h after the removal of the test substances, and also by visual inspection and histology. The electrical impedance device enables measurements at 31 frequencies and relevant information was extracted from the spectra using four indices.

Results: CAPB was found to be less irritating than SLS. The used detergents gave rise to distinctive impedance patterns also reflected by different types of histopathological skin responses. After the adding of betaine, the irritant reaction decreased for both detergents.

Conclusions: Betaine is a promising ingredient to reduce the side effects of detergents and electrical impedance is a suitable tool both to quantify the degree of irritation as well as to differentiate between various types of reactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Betaine / pharmacology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Detergents / pharmacology*
  • Electric Impedance
  • Female
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Irritants / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Irritants / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin / physiopathology
  • Skin Tests
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate / pharmacology
  • Surface-Active Agents / pharmacology
  • Water Loss, Insensible / drug effects


  • Detergents
  • Irritants
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate
  • Betaine