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Panthenol and skin care: When to use this powerful moisturizer

It may sound unfamiliar, but it’s actually fairly common in many products.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Nov 21, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
Applying Panthenol
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Nov 21, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

In this article

What is Panthenol?
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Panthenol—an increasingly popular skincare ingredient—belongs to the B-complex family. It’s recognized as a moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and healing agent that is found in many topical products.¹ Consider it a skincare superhero, if you will!

It’s not unusual to find panthenol in hair care products, personal care products, and skincare products. It makes an appearance in everything from shampoo to lip balms—you’ve probably used it many times before without realizing it. 

Here, our team of dermatology pros will explain what panthenol is and what it can do for your skin. 

What is Panthenol?

Panthenol is a part of the B complex vitamin family.² There are eight different types of B vitamins, and they all serve different functions within the body. Commonly, these vitamins are used in cellular functions and energy production. These vitamins are also known as:³

  • Thiamin (B1).

  • Riboflavin (B2).

  • Niacin (B3).

  • Pantothenic acid (B5).

  • Pyridoxine (B6).

  • Biotin (B7).

  • Folate (B9).

  • Cobalamin (B12).

Panthenol is an alcohol derivative of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). Dexpanthenol is the active form of panthenol and is found in products such as lotions and ointments to promote healing and help relieve itching.⁴ 

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is an essential component of coenzyme A (CoA), which is needed for several reactions in your body. In particular, CoA is used for processes involving proteins in the skin.⁵ 

Panthenol may be hard to locate in your skincare products because it may be listed under other names. Some of those names include:⁶ 

  • Dexpanthenol.

  • DL-panthenol.

  • DL-pantothenyl alcohol.

  • Vitamin B5.

The benefits of panthenol

When scientists discovered the increased proliferation of fibroblasts (these cells make connective tissues within the body), it was then that the first topical dexpanthenol ointment was born. Known to promote wound healing and decrease itching, dexpanthenol also acts as an anti-inflammatory, moisturizer, and skin protectant.⁷ 

Panthenol as a moisturizer

Along with vitamins A, E, and C, panthenol acts as a skin moisturizer and is present in many cosmetic products. Panthenol is said to stimulate collagen production, improve skin hydration, and enhance skin and tissue repair in those with rough or dry skin.⁸ 

Panthenol’s role in wound healing

Research has shown that skin wounds treated with dexpanthenol resulted in less erythema (redness), improved elasticity, and notable tissue regeneration.⁹

Anti-inflammatory

Once D-panthenol (pro-vitamin B5) becomes activated in the skin, it can be an effective ingredient for various skin conditions thanks to its anti-inflammatory and moisturizing capabilities. A study among mild to moderate acne patients using a topical combination therapy with hydrogen peroxide, salicylic acid, and D-panthenol gel was found to reduce acne lesions while demonstrating general tolerability.¹⁰ 

Possible side effects

Panthenol has few side effects for most people, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely free of potential complications. In fact, a small portion of the average adult population may have an allergic reaction to panthenol. One study found that of 2,171 patients given a panthenol-containing product, 1.2 percent had an allergic skin reaction. However, allergic reactions were more common among those with an additional skin condition like chronic eczema.¹¹

Products with panthenol 

Due to panthenol’s skin-boosting properties, it can be a versatile skincare ingredient. As far as skincare goes, it’s most commonly found in hydrating products, though it can also be found in a variety of other topical products. 

Hydrating skincare products are technically moisturizers, but they are categorized based on their thickness and texture as creams, gels, lotions, sprays, or serums. Emulsifiers, humectants, and occlusives and three types of ingredients with moisturizing properties.¹²

The quantity of panthenol present in different moisturizer types varies. There’s evidence that a one to five percent panthenol content formula can reduce moisture loss in the skin.¹³

Treat your skin right

Panthenol can be a powerful addition to your skincare routine. Regular use can heal, soothe, and protect your natural moisture barrier to keep your skin healthy. The trick is figuring out the right products for your skin! 

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Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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Curology’s team of dedicated dermatology providers can work with you to create a skincare routine designed for your skin type and the key issues you want to address, like acne or wrinkles. 

The process is simple. Start your 30-day trial* today after answering a few questions about your skin and taking selfies. Better, happier, healthier skin is right around the corner with skincare products designed just for you. 

FAQs

Is panthenol good for acne?

Research in this area is limited. However, one study reviewed a pantothenic acid-based supplement and its potential impact on acne. The study's findings showed that the supplement contributed to fewer acne breakouts. Notably, this study was specifically discussing an oral B5 supplement, not a topical version.¹⁴ However, as mentioned before, a topical gel using a combination of D-panthenol, salicylic acid, and hydrogen peroxide was shown to reduce acne lesions with good tolerability.¹⁵

Is panthenol better than hyaluronic acid?

Similar to panthenol, hyaluronic acid is a hydrating ingredient found in a variety of skincare products.¹⁶ In particular, hyaluronic acid has a variety of labeled indications, including topical creams to help with certain skin conditions, intradermal injections to help reduce wrinkles and folds, and it also can be used as a treatment for arthritic knee pain.¹⁷

Can you use panthenol every day?

Panthenol is generally well tolerated when applied topically.¹⁸ However, if you experience any adverse reactions, you should consult a medical provider immediately. If you have any questions about whether panthenol is right for your skin, consult with a licensed dermatology provider to determine what’s appropriate for your skincare needs.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework, so you didn’t have to:

  1. PubChem. Panthenol. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2023, May 13). 

  2. PubChem. Panthenol. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Ibid.

  3. Hanna, M., et al. B Vitamins: Functions and Uses in Medicine. The Permanente Journal. (2022, June 17). 

  4. PubChem. Panthenol. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Ibid.

  5. PubChem. Panthenol. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Ibid.

  6. PubChem. Panthenol. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Ibid.

  7. Proksch, E., et al. Topical use of dexpanthenol: a 70th anniversary article. Journal of Dermatological Treatment. (2017, May 14). 

  8. Camargo, F., et al. Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations. Journal of Cosmetic Science. (July/August 2011). 

  9. Ebner, F., et al. Topical Use of Dexpanthenol in Skin Disorders. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. (2012, August 22). 

  10. Ricci, F., et al. Combination therapy with hydrogen peroxide (4%), salicylic acid (0.5%) and D-panthenol (4%): efficacy and skyn tolerability in common acne vulgaris during sun exposure period. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. (2016, n.d.). 

  11. Fernandes, R., et al. Allergic contact dermatitis caused by dexpanthenol-Probably a frequent allergen. Contact Dermatitis. (November 2018). 

  12. Mawazi, S.M., et al. A Review of Moisturizers; History, Preparation, Characterization and Applications. Cosmetics. (2022, June 9).

  13. Camargo, F., et al. Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations. Journal of Cosmetic Science. Ibid.

  14. Yang, M., et al. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of a Novel Pantothenic Acid-Based Dietary Supplement in Subjects with Mild to Moderate Facial Acne. Dermatology and Therapy. (2014, May 16). 

  15. Ricci, F., et al. Combination therapy with hydrogen peroxide (4%), salicylic acid (0.5%) and D-panthenol (4%): efficacy and skyn tolerability in common acne vulgaris during sun exposure period. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. Ibid.

  16. Harwood, A., et al. Moisturizers. StatPearls. (2022, August 21).

  17. Walker, K., et al. Hyaluronic Acid. StatPearls. (2023, March 7).

  18. Camargo, F., et al. Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations. Journal of Cosmetic Science. Ibid.

Meredith Hartle is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Curology. She earned her medical degree at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary. 

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Meredith Hartle, DO

Meredith Hartle, DO

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