Noninvasive techniques that provide detailed information about molecular composition, structure, and interactions are crucial to further our understanding of the relation between skin disease and biochemical changes in the skin, as well as for the development of penetration enhancers for transdermal drug administration. In this study we present in vitro and in vivo Raman spectra of human skin. Using a Raman microspectrometer, in vitro spectra were obtained of thin cross sections of human skin. They provided insight into the molecular composition of different skin layers. Evidence was found for the existence of a large variation in lipid content of the stratum corneum. A simple experimental setup for in, vivo confocal Raman microspectroscopy of the skin was developed. In vivo Raman spectra of the stratum corneum were obtained at different positions of the arm and hand of three volunteers. They provided evidence for differences in the concentration of natural moisturizing factor at these positions. (C) 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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