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November 1946

VEHICLES IN TOPICAL DERMATOLOGIC THERAPY: Their Functions and Physicochemical Characteristics

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Arch Derm Syphilol. 1946;54(5):497-513. doi:10.1001/archderm.1946.01510400003001


In the preparation of a dermatologic, therapeutic material for topical application, it is not uncommon for the vehicle to be given too little consideration. Custom too often determines the selection of the vehicle. Its choice may depend more on pleasing physical properties than on therapeutic efficacy. Such properties of a vehicle as odor, color, stability and compatibility with various drugs are emphasized. It is our belief that sufficient thought is rarely givento the functions which the vehicle performs or to such physicochemical characteristics of the vehicle as its ability to dissolve drugs, to cool the skin and to wet the skin.

In the literature, there are relatively few papers which correlate the various functions of vehicles with their physical and physico-chemical properties or which discuss the physicochemical action of the vehicles on the skin. There is one German monograph on this subject by Czetsch-Lindenwald and Schmidt-LaBaume,1 but no similar text in English has come to our attention. There has been considerable investigation of the action of specific drugs in various vehicles, such as the recent series of papers by Strakosch,2 each of which contains a complete bibliography.