What is the role of retinoic acid in the treatment of keloids and hypertrophic scars?

Updated: May 29, 2020
  • Author: Brian Berman, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Retinoic acid decreases normal tonofilament and keratohyalin synthesis, increases the production of mucoid substances and the epidermal cell growth rate, and inhibits DNA synthesis in vitro.

In a clinical trial involving 21 patients with 28 keloids and hypertrophic scars, topical retinoic acid was applied for at least 3 months twice daily and showed favorable results in 77-79% of the lesions. This includes a decrease in the size and symptoms of the scar. [44]

In addition, because retinoids affect collagen metabolism, another study involving 9 females and 2 males with keloids treated with 0.05% tretinoin topically for 12 weeks showed a significant decrease in weight (P< .04) and size (P< .01) of the keloids when comparing the status of the lesions at the beginning of the study and at week 12. [45]

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