Topical treatment modalities have multiple advantages starting with the convenient application and non-invasive treatment and ending with the reduction of the risk of the systemic side effects. Active pharmaceutical substances must reach the desired concentration at the target site in order to produce a particular therapeutic effect. In contrast to other dosage forms topical agents applied to the skin may also be susceptible to photodegradation after application. That is why the knowledge of the susceptibility of these topical drugs to UV irradiation, which may contribute to their degradation or changes in chemical structure, is very important. Active pharmaceutical substances used in dermatology may differ both in chemical structure and photostability. Furthermore, various factors—such as light intensity and wavelength, pH, temperature, concentration—can influence the photodegradation process, which is reflected in particular in kinetics of photodegradation of active pharmaceutical substances as well as both the quantitative and qualitative composition of by-products. The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review of the photostability of dermatological drugs, as well as of other substances commonly applied topically. The photostability of glucocorticosteroids, retinoids, and antifungal drugs as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs applied topically and selected UV-filters have been discussed. Furthermore, the impact of photoinstability on the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy and some photostabilization strategies have been also included.
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