Which Acne Treatments Work Best for Your Scar?
The best acne treatments around the world, according to a new study, can be as simple as applying a few drops of topical acne-fighting ointment to the scalp.
“It’s a little like having a spray bottle on your face,” said Jennifer A. C. Ladd, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
LADD and her colleagues at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Harvard Medical School published the results of a survey of more than 30,000 people in the United States.
The study focused on acne treatment in a broad category of conditions including inflammatory acne, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
“Our results show that topical acne treatments have been shown to improve skin barrier function and improve inflammation,” said Ladd.
“For example, they may be able to reduce the formation of clogged pores, which may lead to more tolerable, more visible signs of acne.”
This study was based on data from the National Skin Diseases Association, a professional organization representing dermatologists, dermatologists’ organizations and skin care experts.
It is the first to look at the effectiveness of topical treatments for acne, which accounts for about 70 percent of the total acne diagnoses.
This study also looked at the efficacy of a range of topical products including topical salicylic acid (which is often applied to the face), benzoyl peroxide (which can be used on the scalp), and topical glycolic acid (used for skin resurfacing).
The survey included more than 2,400 people, ages 18 to 75.
The results showed that topical treatments, which can be applied by hand or with a syringe, were generally safe and effective.
However, there was a slight difference between the two groups in terms of skin barrier protection, with topical salicylates having the best barrier protection compared to benzoyls, according the NIH and Harvard.
“We found that topical saliciels actually did better than benzoyles in terms (of barrier protection),” Ladd said.
The researchers also looked for differences in the effectiveness and safety of topical ointments for acne.
While most of the people in this study used salicylates for acne treatment (including many people who have never used topical acne products), there was evidence of differences in their skin barrier levels.
In fact, the majority of people in their study had moderate to severe skin barrier problems, with some needing to see a dermatologist for a specific problem, the researchers said.
However: The most common skin barrier problem was mild to moderate acne, where some people had severe problems with acne, according Ladd and her co-authors.
“Most of the studies that we’ve looked at show that when people have moderate to extreme acne, they need to see the dermatologist, which is very uncommon,” she said.
“So we wanted to see if there were other problems that were present.
So we looked at a broader range of problems.”
There were some notable differences between people who were treated by topical saliccants and those who were not.
In general, the people who had severe acne had the worst barrier protection.
Those with moderate to moderate problems were the least likely to have significant barrier issues, the study showed.
In addition, topical oints were significantly more effective at preventing acne, but only for those with severe acne.
In other words, people with moderate or severe acne could use topical oins, but they weren’t as effective as those with moderate and mild problems.
However the research team found that some people did have a lot of trouble with acne treatment because of the way their skin is affected by the sun.
This is especially true for people who are elderly, have skin diseases such as eczema or psorosis and have acne-prone skin, the NIH said.
Those who were older, who have skin problems such as psorias, eczematous skin, psoriasis, rosacea and/or psoriatosis may be at greater risk of developing skin barrier issues with topical oin, according a study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
This research was supported by the NIH.
LAD, a professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical Center, is also an author on the study.
She is also the co-author of “The Skin and the Body: A Guide to Treating Acne” (MIT Press).
This article has been updated with additional information.