Skin dryness relieved by vitamin B3

by | Dermatology, Winter health

Vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) may be a simple and cost-effective approach to relieve dry skin, according to Australian researchers.

Their trial of 292 patients found oral nicotinamide tablets reduced skin dryness by up to 7% over 12 months compared with dummy treatment. Skin dryness was assessed by measuring water loss from the outmost layer of skin – the epidermis – known as transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

The study also found there was a 15% difference in skin dryness between winter and the more humid summer months. This means nicotinamide replenished at least half the skin moisture that would otherwise be lost, says lead author Professor Diona Damian from the University of Sydney.

Skin dryness was particularly reduced in the forehead but not so much for limbs, suggesting that the face is more receptive to changes in skin moisture than the limbs, says Prof Damian.

The study involved people with ages ranging from 30 to 90 who were allocated to take either nicotinamide 500mg or placebo (dummy treatment) tablets twice daily for 12 months. All underwent skin checks of their dryness levels every 3 months.

Prof Damian says while the results were promising, the study only looked at people with skin cancers and not specifically those with skin dryness.

However, should the result be confirmed in further trials, nicotinamide could be used in conjunction with other treatments to manage skin dryness, says Prof Damian.

It’s also very important to avoid taking a different form of vitamin B3, called nicotinic acid or niacin, which has a range of side effects that we don’t see with nicotinamide,” she adds.

The study was presented at the Australian College of Dermatology’s annual conference in Perth and has been published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Rachel Worsley attended ACD 2016 courtesy of the Australasian College of Dermatologists.