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Nanomaterials include engineered nanoparticles, nanoemulsions, nanopigments, etc as well as randomly or incidentally occurring nano-objects, like those that exist in nature. Nanotechnology exploits unexpected properties of the nanomaterials. Nanomaterials differ from their raw starting material in stability, reactivity, and ability to interact with neighboring molecules. Because of their large surface-to-volume ratio, nanoparticle reactivity increases with decreasing particle size. But size is not the only critical factor in nanotechnology.
In dermatology, the products fall into three broad realms: consumer products, diagnostic products, and therapeutic products. Consumer products such as sunscreens, shampoos, cosmetics, foods or even textiles have already been developed and commercialized. In dermatology, the most obvious example is sunscreen, which can contain nano-sized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Fullerenes are being used in cosmetic products to protect and transport active ingredients and enhance their effect. Other examples include make-ups with iridescent or vivid hues and emollients with biomimetic lipids. Products in development include perfumes with slower release of scent and insect repellants with longer persistence of active ingredient on the skin.
According to Dr. Friedman artificial nanoparticles have the potential to permeate the human body. Artificial nanoparticles may get into the body by several means: injection (as in nanoparticles tagged for chemotherapy or for radiologic imaging), inhalational (as in attenuated vaccines in intranasal sprays), by mouth (nanomaterials in foods or used for self-cleaning utensils) and topically (through liposomal and hydrogel drug carriers, or micro needle patches). Nanoparticles are more likely to penetrate skin that is damaged or flexed. Nanoparticles penetrate the skin and other tissues more readily than their bulk counterparts and cause harm. Nanoparticles that are indestructible (e.g., carbon nanotubes) or do not follow a natural elimination pathway may accumulate in vital organs and cause ailments reminiscent of genetic storage diseases.
Scientists believe that the greatest risks stem from the inhalation of nanoparticles, though the risk associated with gastrointestinal uptake has yet to be fully elucidated. They may also linger in the environment and become magnified in the food web.
Manufacturers of nanomaterials need to be concerned about workplace hazards. For nanotechnology to be successful, the real and theoretical concerns of toxicity from nanomaterials delivered to the skin and released into the environment should be addressed. Ideally, as nanomaterials are manufactured, their potential for immediate and delayed toxicity should be explored and mitigated.
Nanodermatology Society
To focus on potential beneficial uses of this new technology as well as potential dangers within its purview, the Nanodermatology Society (NDS) was established in 2010 to promote a greater understanding of the scientific and medical aspects of nanotechnology in skin health and disease. The Society is composed of physicians, dermatologists, physicists, chemists, policy makers, regulators, nanotechnology scientists, and students involved in nanotechnology specifically related to dermatology from medical practice, to scientific research, to government agencies, and to industry.

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