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Summary

This review summarizes important clinical developments in acne treatment identified in five systematic reviews and two significant primary research studies, published between March 2010 and February 2011. Although evidence showing a direct link between development of bacterial resistance and oral antibiotic therapy for acne is not convincing, prescribers can still tailor their practice to minimize future risks by stopping treatment when appropriate, using benzoyl peroxide, and avoiding combining topical and systemic antimicrobials. A systematic review evaluating combination products containing benzoyl peroxide did not show convincing evidence that such products are superior to monotherapies. A systematic review of combined oral contraceptives confirmed their efficacy for acne in women. However, another systematic review of botanical products for acne failed to provide any good-quality evidence of benefit. A large, well-reported retrospective cohort study attempted to clarify the potential link between isotretinoin and depression/suicide. Although suicide risk peaked 6 months after isotretinoin treatment, an increased risk was present before initiation of isotretinoin, making it difficult to attribute the increased risk to isotretinoin alone. However, those with a history of suicide attempts before treatment made fewer new attempts than those whose behaviour started during treatment. This suggests that patients with severe acne with a history of attempted suicide should not automatically be refused isotretinoin. Another randomized controlled trial of 60 patients from Korea suggested that low-dose isotretinoin dose than might provide a better long-term outcome with minimal side-effects for people with moderate acne.