Panthenol is the alcohol form of Vitamin B / pantothenic acid / Vitamin B5
Panthenol comes in two enantiomers, D and L. Only D-panthenol (dexpanthenol) is biologically active, however both forms have moisturizing properties. For cosmetic use, panthenol comes either in D form, or as a racemic mixture of D and L (DL-panthenol).
Panthenol is sourced from a component of honey (d-pantolactone) and is the alcohol form of pantothenic acid.
It is sometimes mixed with allantoin, in concentrations of up to 2-5%. It improves hydration, reduces itching and inflammation of the skin, and accelerates epidermal wounds’ rate of healing. Source: Ebner F, Heller A, Rippke F, Tausch I (2002). Topical Use of Dexpanthenol in Skin Disorders. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 3 (6): 427–433. Link Pubmed
The benefits of panthenol was discovered in the 1950’s in a study on patients with severe burns and wounds, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. It showed that wounds treated with an ointment of 5% panthenol showed a ‘dramatically accelerated healing process’.