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Krzysztof Cal, Monika Sopala
Med Sci Monit 2008; 14(8): PI19-23
The pharmaceutical market offers a wide range of inhalant drug products applied on the skin that contain essential oils and/or their isolated compounds, i.e. terpenes. Because there are few data concerning the skin penetration of terpenes, especially from complex carriers, the goal of this study was to determine the ex vivo skin absorption kinetics of chosen terpenes, namely eucalyptol, menthol, camphor, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene, from the product Vicks VapoRub.
Material and Method: Human cadaver skin was placed in a flow-through diffusion chamber and the product was applied for 15, 30, and 60 min. After the application time the skin was separated into layers using a tape-stripping technique: three fractions of stratum corneum and epidermis with dermis, and terpenes amounts in the samples were determined by gas-chromatography.
Results: The investigated terpenes showed different absorption characteristics related to their physicochemical properties and did not permeate through the skin into the acceptor fluid. Eucalyptol had the largest total accumulation in the stratum corneum and in the epidermis with dermis, while alpha-pinene penetrated into the skin in the smallest amount.
Conclusions: The short time in which saturation of the stratum corneum with the terpenes occurred and the high accumulation of most of the investigated terpenes in the skin layers proved that these compounds easily penetrate and permeate the stratum corneum and that in vivo they may easily penetrate into the blood circulation.