What to know about vaginal acne medications
Experts are debating whether vaginal acne medication is as effective as it is made out to be and whether it’s worth the potential side effects.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, vaginal acne is the most common acne disorder in the United States, affecting roughly 8 million people.
The FDA’s own data suggests that nearly half of all patients have vaginal acne.
“If you have a history of vaginal acne or an inflammatory response to your vaginal creams, it’s important to take these drugs seriously,” said Dr. David R. Saller, a dermatologist at Johns Hopkins University.
He’s also a member of the American College of Dermpathology, a trade group representing dermatologists in the medical community.
“They are the first choice for people who have vaginal symptoms,” said Sallen, who added that patients who do not have a vaginal history should consider oral medications.
“But the most important thing is to have regular check-ups, especially for women who are over 40 years old.”
While oral medications are more commonly prescribed for women over the age of 40, the FDA’s latest guidance notes that “women over the ages of 40 should also be monitored for signs of vaginal dryness or irritation.”
While the FDA recommends taking the oral medication as prescribed, the American Board of Dermal Therapy says that some women may need a second line of treatment that involves the use of a topical gel.
Salk, for example, is offering two oral preparations that are made from the same polymer as the vaginal creamer: a “sugar cube” that’s used to treat dryness, and a “bulkier” cream that contains “oxygenated” vaginal cells that can be used to control vaginal inflammation.
A third, a cream that has a gel in it, has been available in the U.S. since 2010.
It has a pH of 8.2 and a salicylic acid content of 13%.
The salicyl acid is what gives it its anti-inflammatory effect, and it’s the same chemical used to make aspirin.
Both of the oral preparations are currently in clinical trials and have been approved for use in adults.
In the U, oral Salk has also been approved by the FDA for the treatment of vaginal inflammation and dyspareunia, and oral Cipro is approved for the use in patients with recurrent vaginal infections.
In fact, the CipronX is available for purchase over the counter in pharmacies across the country.
The most effective topical treatment for vaginal acne involves the topical gel, according to the Academy of Oral Medicine, which is made from coconut oil.
“The gel is very effective and very low in cost,” said Mark D. Smith, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic.
“It can be very effective for vaginal dry or inflamed vulvodynia.”
While vaginal acne treatments have been available for years, Smith said that the new formulation from Salk is the “most advanced” to date.
The gel, which contains a combination of salicylamide and zinc oxide, is “much more effective” than other topical treatments, he said.
“There is an added benefit of a lot of nutrients,” Smith added, such as magnesium, which may help the gel “to work in a more balanced way with the vaginal epithelium.”
The Salk vaginal cream is available over the counters in some states and can be ordered online from the manufacturer.
The American College’s Sallan said that there’s not a lot more to say about oral acne medication.
“I don’t want to overstate the importance of oral acne medications, because it’s not for everyone,” he said, “but it’s a great option for some people who are not in the market for oral acne drugs.”
Dr. Steven J. Sargent, a gastroenterologist and dermatologist in Los Angeles, told Newsweek that while oral acne treatments are currently available over-the-counter, he doesn’t recommend them.
“Most people will benefit from topical medications that contain calcium carbonate and other nutrients,” he told Newsweek.
“However, oral acne treatment with topical medication may not be the right option for you.”
He added that “there is a very good reason for the need to use oral medications over oral creams.”
“You don’t need to have a ton of acne at all,” he added.
“You have acne if you have some kind of underlying disease.”
But for many people, oral treatment is the only option.
“Even if you don’t have any kind of acne, it may help to take oral medications,” said Smith.
“That is the primary way you get better at managing your acne.”
SOURCE: Newsweek, “The U.K. FDA to allow oral medication for vaginal condition,” January 18, 2019, http://www.newsweek.com/article/uk-federal-fda-to-allow-oral-medication-for-vaginal-condition/articles/20151018