Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety

Clin Interv Aging. 2006;1(4):327-48. doi: 10.2147/ciia.2006.1.4.327.


Aging of skin is an intricate biological process consisting of two types. While intrinsic or chronological aging is an inevitable process, photoaging involves the premature aging of skin occurring due to cumulative exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Chronological and photoaging both have clinically differentiable manifestations. Various natural and synthetic retinoids have been explored for the treatment of aging and many of them have shown histological and clinical improvement, but most of the studies have been carried out in patients presenting with photoaged skin. Amongst the retinoids, tretinoin possibly is the most potent and certainly the most widely investigated retinoid for photoaging therapy. Although retinoids show promise in the treatment of skin aging, irritant reactions such as burning, scaling or dermatitis associated with retinoid therapy limit their acceptance by patients. This problem is more prominent with tretinoin and tazarotene whereas other retinoids mainly represented by retinaldehyde and retinol are considerably less irritating. In order to minimize these side effects, various novel drug delivery systems have been developed. In particular, nanoparticles have shown a good potential in improving the stability, tolerability and efficacy ofretinoids like tretinoin and retinol. However, more elaborate clinical studies are required to confirm their advantage in the delivery of topical retinoids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adapalene
  • Dermatologic Agents / pharmacology
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dermis / drug effects
  • Epidermis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Naphthalenes / pharmacology
  • Naphthalenes / therapeutic use
  • Nicotinic Acids / pharmacology
  • Nicotinic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Retinaldehyde / pharmacology
  • Retinaldehyde / therapeutic use
  • Retinoids / adverse effects
  • Retinoids / pharmacology*
  • Retinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Skin Aging / drug effects*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology
  • Tretinoin / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / drug therapy


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Naphthalenes
  • Nicotinic Acids
  • Retinoids
  • Adapalene
  • Tretinoin
  • tazarotene
  • Retinaldehyde