The extent to which topically applied solid nanoparticles can penetrate the stratum corneum and access the underlying viable epidermis and the rest of the body is a great potential safety concern. Therefore, human epidermal penetration of a novel, transparent, nanoparticulate zinc oxide sunscreen formulation was determined using Franz-type diffusion cells, 24-hour exposure and an electron microscopy to verify the location of nanoparticles in exposed membranes. Less than 0.03% of the applied zinc content penetrated the epidermis (not significantly more than the zinc detected in receptor phase following application of a placebo formulation). No particles could be detected in the lower stratum corneum or viable epidermis by electron microscopy, suggesting that minimal nanoparticle penetration occurs through the human epidermis.
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