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10 benefits of melatonin on the skin

Learn 10 of the main benefits of melatonin on the skin and its use in dermatology.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland whose secretion is influenced by the sleep-wake or light-dark cycle. Its main function in the body is to regulate sleep cycles.

The production of melatonin by the human body decreases with age. It is known that its supplementation has anti-aging effect, improving the quality of the skin and protecting it from ultraviolet radiation and other environmental damage such as tobacco.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland whose secretion follows a circadian rhythm, influenced by the cycles of light and darkness. It has a wide variety of properties at the cellular level including a high antioxidant power.

Like the entire body, the skin undergoes the oxidation and aging process, caused by internal and external factors, such as ultraviolet light or the production of free radicals. Melatonin levels increase at night and in mammals it has been shown to modulate immune response, body weight, anti-jet-lag effects, reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy and be an anti-cancer agent.

The benefits of melatonin on the skin are varied. It has anti-aging effects and is a powerful antioxidant, useful as adjuvant in various dermatoses.

Melatonin in dermatology can be used as an oral supplement at bedtime or safely formulated into creams for topical use.

10 benefits of melatonin on the skin and main uses in dermatology

  1. Anti-aging and anti-wrinkle.: Melatonin is a sunscreen and has an anti-wrinkle effect. Its main action focuses on the keratinocytes and fibroblasts of the skin, protecting them from damage from ultraviolet radiation. It has also been shown to reduce the production of free radicals in the skin (1,2).
  2. Sun tanning: its intake before sun exposure reduces the risk of sunburn and its application in a 0.5% cream is the most powerful concentrate capable of removing the erythema or redness caused by a sunburn (ultraviolet light) (3).
  3. Atopic dermatitis: Preliminary studies have shown the beneficial effects of melatonin in patients with atopic dermatitis, both in cream and supplemented form (4). Despite everything, it should not be routinely recommended in cases where the patient also has asthma, since it can increase bronchial reactivity (5).
  4. Skin damage from radiotherapy (Radiodermatitis): Melatonin has been shown to have a radioprotective effect, reducing skin damage caused by radiotherapy and increasing its therapeutic effect. Treatment must be prolonged (6).
  5. Spots on the skin (melasma, solar lentigines): melatonin is a promising and safe treatment to reduce skin imperfections. Its mechanism of action is based on the inhibition of the action of tyrosine oxidase on the skin, responsible for the appearance of spots or pigmentation (7).
  6. Androgenic alopecia: It can be used topically or orally as a complementary treatment for androgenic alopecia and other forms of alopecia due to its powerful antioxidant action (8).
  7. Squamous cell carcinomaRecent in vitro studies have found that melatonin induces squamous cell carcinoma cell death (9). Its use in this indication is not widespread, but it is in the context of being a powerful sunscreen that predisposes to the development of skin cancer, this being one of the main benefits of melatonin on the skin.
  8. smoker's skin (skin and tobacco) and postmenopausal women: supplemented melatonin has anti-aging action in this group of patients, reducing wrinkles and imperfections and increasing skin elasticity. It is capable of reversing the changes of tobacco on the skin (10).
  9. Vitiligo: in vitiligo we find a sensitivity of melanocytes to oxidative stress that leads to their destruction. Melatonin has a powerful antioxidant action on the skin and a protective role for the melanocyte, which is why it can be associated with other treatments (11).
  10. Melanoma: Melatonin has action against cancer, so it can be beneficial as an adjuvant treatment in breast, liver, prostate or melanoma cancer.


1. Kleszczynski K, Fisher T. Melatonin and human skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol 2012; 4: 245-252.

2. D-Day, Burgees CM, Kircik LH. Evaluation of the potential role of topical melatonin in an anti-aging skin regimen. J Drugs Dermatol 2018; 17: 966-969.

3. Banha E, Elsner P, Kistler GS. Suppression of UV-induced erythema through topical treatment with melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine). A dose response study. Arch Dermatol Res 1996; 288: 522–6.

4. Shi K, Lio PA. Alternative treatments for atopic dermatitis. Am J Dermatol 2018; E-publishing ahead of print.

5. Marseglia L, D'Angelo G, Manti T, et al. Melatonin and atopy: role in atopic dermatitis and asthma. Int J Mol Sci 2014: 15: 13482-13493.

6. Shabeed D, Najafi M, Musa AE, et al. Biochemical and histopathological evaluation of the radioprotective effects of melatonin against skin damage induced by gamma rays. Curr Radiopharm 2018; E-publishing ahead of print.

7. Juhasz MLV, Levin MK. The role of systemic treatments for skin lightening. J Cosmet Dermatol 2018; 17: 1144-1157.

8. Hatem S, Nasr M, Moftah NH, et al. Vitamin C-based melatonin nanovehicles for the treatment of androgenic alopecia. Eur J Pharm Sci 1028; 122: 246-253.

9. Kocyigit A, Guler EM, Karatas E, et al. Dose-dependent proliferative and cytotoxic effects of melatonin on human squamous cell carcinoma and normal skin fibroblast cells. Mutat Res 2018; epub before printing.

10. Sagan D, Stepniak J, Gesing A, et al. Melatonin reverses increased oxidative damage to membrane lipids and improves the biophysical characteristics of the skin in former smokers. Ann Agric Enviton Med 2017; 24: 659-666.

11. Patel S, Rauf A, Khan H et al. A holistic review on the autoimmune disease vitiligo with emphasis on causal factors. Biomed Pharmacother 2017; E-publishing ahead of print.

12. Srinivasan V, Pandi-Perumal SR, Brzezinski A, et al. Recent immune drug discovery by Pat Endocr Metab 2011; 5: 109-123.

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