Effects of topical DHEA on aging skin: a pilot study

Maturitas. 2008 Feb 20;59(2):174-81. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2007.12.004. Epub 2008 Feb 1.


Objectives: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a steroid hormone involved in physiological aging. When administered by oral route, it has been shown to positively affect skin condition on aged people. The purpose of this pilot study was to observe the in vivo effects on skin aging of topical DHEA (1%).

Methods: The DHEA formulation (1%) or the vehicle was topically applied for 4 months to facial and hand skin, in two groups of 20 post-menopausal women. The efficacy of the treatment was evaluated on the basis of clinical and biophysical signs linked to skin aging.

Results: We showed that DHEA treatment increased the rate of sebum, which was perceived rather positively by a menopausal population usually affected with a declining sebum level. Topical DHEA tends to improve skin brightness, to counteract papery appearance of skin and epidermal atrophy, a characteristic feature of hormone-related skin aging. Topical DHEA could also act on skin process related to wrinkles, but this result remains to be confirmed.

Conclusions: This pilot study showed beneficial effects on skin characteristics that are rarely provided by topical treatments. It raised some interesting clues towards the treatment of skin aging.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacology*
  • Administration, Topical
  • Aged
  • Atrophy
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / administration & dosage
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / pharmacology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Epidermis / drug effects
  • Epidermis / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sebum / metabolism
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Aging / drug effects*
  • Skin Aging / pathology


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone