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New Skin Cream Reverses Sun Damage

WebMD Health News

Nov. 22, 2002 -- A new skin cream may help wipe away at least some of the damage caused by too many days at the beach. Researchers say once-daily applications of Avage can reduce the effects of harmful ultra violet (UV) light exposure and minimize wrinkles, discoloration, roughness, and even some forms of skin cancer.

Their findings appear in the November issue of The Archives of Dermatology.

The cream contains 0.1% of a substance called tazarotene, which is similar to vitamin A. Tazarotene-based creams and gels (sold under the name Tazorac) are already used to treat facial acne and some types of psoriasis. In October, the FDA approved a request from the manufacturer to market the cream (sold as Avage) as a wrinkle-fighter.

Repeated exposure to the sun's UV rays without the protection of sunscreen can lead to skin damage such as wrinkling, discoloration, roughness, visible blood vessels, and, in serious cases, skin cancer.

Initial studies showed the cream could reduce the signs of sun damage when applied once a day for 12 weeks, and in this study, Tania J. Phillips, MD, of the Boston University School of Medicine looked at whether using Avage over a longer period of time would produce similar results.

Researchers studied 563 patients with facial sun damage who applied either Avage or a placebo cream to their face once a day for 24 weeks. After 24 weeks, all continuing patients received the Avage cream for an additional 28 weeks. The average age of the participants was 56.

At the 24-week point, researchers found significantly more patients who used the tazarotene cream experienced a more than 50% overall improvement in skin appearance compared to those who received the placebo. The Avage users also reported less wrinkling, mottled pigmentation, and skin roughness.

Even more benefits were seen among those who used the cream for up to 52 weeks. Researchers say the improvements had not tapered off by week 52, which suggests that the skin-improving benefits may continue to increase over time.

Twenty of the 283 Avage-treated patients in phase one of the study dropped out due to adverse effects.

The study was funded by Allergan Inc, which produces Avage and Tazorac.

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