Topical dissolved oxygen penetrates skin: model and method

J Surg Res. 2010 Mar;159(1):e29-36. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2009.10.039. Epub 2009 Nov 21.


Background: It has been commonly perceived that skin receives its oxygen supply from the internal circulation. However, recent investigations have shown that a significant amount of oxygen may enter skin from the external overlying surface. A method has been developed for measuring the transcutaneous penetration of human skin by oxygen as described herein. This method was used to determine both the depth and magnitude of penetration of skin by topically applied oxygen.

Material and methods: An apparatus consisting of human skin samples interposed between a topical oxygen source and a fluid filled chamber that registered changes in dissolved oxygen. Viable human skin samples of variable thicknesses with and without epidermis were used to evaluate the depth and magnitude of oxygen penetration from either topical dissolved oxygen (TDO) or topical gaseous oxygen (TGO) devices.

Results and conclusion: This model effectively demonstrates transcutaneous penetration of topically applied oxygen. Topically applied dissolved oxygen penetrates through >700 microm of human skin. Topically applied oxygen penetrates better though dermis than epidermis, and TDO devices deliver oxygen more effectively than TGO devices.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage*
  • Oxygenators
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin Absorption / physiology
  • Wound Healing


  • Oxygen