In a seminar in the journal researchers from the U.S. and the U.K. reviewed the current slate of treatments available, including topical treatments such as benzoyl peroxide, retinoids and topical antibiotics, and oral treatments such as antibiotics, contraceptives and isotretinoin (the last typically used to treat severe cases of acne).
While making the point that acne can be physically as well as emotionally painful, especially for teens, the authors also note that the vast array of products and product combinations, plus the lack of studies that compare products, have resulted in conflicting guidelines for the products. Few recommendations, they add, are based in evidence, and more research is needed to determine a fitting plan for initial treatment as well as maintenance.
Antibiotics are sometimes part of the course of acne treatment, but the researchers note that concerns over the increase in drug resistance prove the need to develop therapies that leave out antibiotics. Hand-held home lasers and heating devices are available to treat acne, they add, but these inexpensive tools need randomized controlled trials to show their effectiveness.
Also needed are long-term studies looking at risk factors for persistent cases. It’s also unclear if early, pre-puberty treatment can have any effect on acne.
And that’s not all — also on the researchers’ wish list are studies that compare various treatments and therapies, as well as ones that look at how cost-effective they are. They also take almost half of recently published studies to task for being flawed.