Formulation and Delivery of Topically Applied Drugs for the Treatment of Atopic Eczema and Other Related Diseases

  • Manda Tsang

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Atopic eczema is an incurable disorder of the skin. Sufferers are afflicted with hypersensitivity to environmental agents such as soaps (detergents), animal dander, pollen, specific foods and sometimes even water. Genetic mutations in atopic eczema compromise the development of the stratum corneum resulting in xerotic skin that is prone to cracking and increased permeability which leads to irritation due to the influx of exogenous material through the skin. The causes of atopic eczema are due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors and it is, therefore, a difficult disease to manage. Emollients and topical corticosteroids are the mainstay treatments for eczema. However, they do not treat the underlying cause of the flare-ups frequently seen in the condition; the damaged skin barrier. Defects in the skin barrier arise from premature desquamation of the stratum corneum. The main contributors to barrier breakdown are the up-regulation of skin proteases that are located in the skin. Since zinc is a known protease inhibitor, it would thus follow that a topical treatment for skin barrier repair should be developed. Therefore, the main objectives of this thesis are to successfully incorporate zinc into a formulation to develop a novel class of treatment for eczema and to assess the delivery of the element into the skin. In this thesis, methods to assess and characterise changes to skin barrier function and to extract and quantify zinc in the stratum corneum have been established. The development of two novel topically applied formulations containing zinc lactate as the active ingredient (1% w/w zinc lactate cream and a 2% w/v zinc lactate formulation) has been achieved and the uptake of zinc from the preparations in vitro determined. Further, the in vitro percutaneous penetration of zinc from three commercially available preparations has been investigated and compared to that recovered from the stratum corneum after passive diffusion with the novel zinc formulations. Additionally, in vivo uptake of zinc into human stratum corneum from Sudocremis ® reported. Scanning electron microscopy has revealed the distribution of zinc on the surface of skin treated with various formulations and has also allowed the efficiency of two cleaning procedures to be ascertained. The delivery of zinc from the novel topical formulation; 1% w/w zinc lactate cream, was more efficient than that the three commercial formulations and shows promise as a new approach to treat atopic eczema.
Date of Award1 Dec 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorRichard Guy (Supervisor)


  • transepidermal water loss
  • zinc lactate
  • zinc
  • Sudocrem
  • stratum lorneum
  • Aqueous Cream BP
  • tape stripping
  • percutaneous penetration
  • SEM
  • atopic eczema

Cite this