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Vitamin A for Diabetic Foot Ulcers

November 26, 2005

Tretinoin, a vitamin A compound usually used in the treatment of acne, has been shown to assist in healing foot ulcers in people with diabetes, according to a report recently published in the Archives of Dermatology and reported by Reuters.

In previous studies, topically applied Retin-A (tretinoin) enhanced wound-healing in people with diabetes. However, these studies were small and produced some inconsistent results.

"We wanted to know if tretinoin really helps or not," Dr Tissa R Hata of the Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, reportedly told Reuters Health.

The more recent clinical trial included a total of 24 volunteers with diabetic foot ulcers, but none of these participants showed evidence of infection or circulation problems in the extremities. Each participant was randomly assigned to receive either daily treatment with topical tretinoin solution (0.05%) or placebo (a saline solution) over a period of four weeks.

Photographs were taken and the size of each wound was assessed every two weeks for a period of 16 weeks.

A total of 22 participants completed the study, among whom was a total of 24 foot ulcers. At the end of 16 weeks, two of the 11 ulcers in the control group (18%) and 6 of the 13 ulcers in the treated group (46%) had completely healed.

No statistically significant adverse events occurred during the course of the study, although some patients reporting experiencing mild pain at the site of the ulcer.

"We are very pleased with the results. We were a bit concerned because tretinoin is very irritating and we thought that the patients would become so irritated that we wouldn't be able to continue the study. But actually, that didn't seem to be a problem in most cases," Hata said, according to Reuters. "The patients seemed to get used to it."

"We are hoping that diabetic foot clinics will adopt some of this, and use [Retin-A] when some of the other therapies that they are using don't work," she concluded.

Vitamin A compound heals diabetic foot ulcers, Reuters, 23 November, 2005.
The Effect of Short-Contact Topical Tretinoin Therapy for Foot Ulcers in Patients With Diabetes. Wynnis L Tom, MD, et al. Archives of Dermatology, volume141, pages 1373-1377, 2005.

Posted: November 2005