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Acne Controlled by Gel Treatment - Without Pills

Severe acne sufferers typically achieve clearer skin with a combination of an oral antibiotic and anti-acne gels applied to the skin. However, most often acne can be cleared with gels alone, according to two studies in the Archives of Dermatology.

"This approach is especially attractive in an environment with rising concerns ... regarding long-term antibiotic use for acne," note the authors of one report.

For some people, acne may be so severe that a doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics and a gel containing retinoids derived from vitamin A that is applied directly to the skin.

But because acne can return, "maintenance" therapy is often needed, and keeping patients on long-term oral antibiotics is not ideal.

In the first study, investigators tested the efficacy of a topical retinoid-like gel sold as Differin (adapalene gel 0.1 percent) in maintaining the clearer skin achieved after 12 weeks' treatment with an oral antibiotic alone or with Differin gel in 253 people with severe acne.
According to Dr. Diane M. Thiboutot from Pennsylvania State University and colleagues, 75 percent of acne patients who continued with Differin gel maintained the improvements they achieved when on combination acne therapy. In contrast, only 54 percent of those on placebo gel maintained their clearer skin after the acne outbreak was cleared.

Moreover, during the 16-week maintenance study, the number of acne breakouts gradually increased in the placebo gel group, while in the Differin gel group, the number of acne breakouts remained stable or decreased.

The study was funded by acne medicine Differin maker Galderma Laboratories.