August 30, 2011
Acne Products Lack Proper Research
A new study has found that common acne products lack proper research in documenting their effectiveness.
Clinical reviews by experts at the University of Nottingham say there is very little evidence to show which medications work best and question whether expensive treatments are any better than traditional ones.
"The large number of products and product combinations, and the scarcity of comparative studies, has led to disparate guidelines with few recommendations being evidence-based," lead author Hywel Williams from the Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology at the UK's University of Nottingham, said in a statement.
The study found that most guidelines for acne care are based on expert opinions, but even those opinions have many conflicts of interest.
Researchers said "almost half of recently published acne trials contain serious flaws that could be overcome by better reporting“¦The absence of trials with active comparators is a significant handicap to shared clinical decision making."
Experts have discouraged doctors in recent years from prescribing long-term antibiotics for treatment out of fear that patients will develop a resistance to the medications.
Up to 20 percent of those who suffer from acne are left with facial scarring by the conditions, which can persist into adulthood.
The review highlights that the long-term use of many treatments for acne might also contribute to resistance to the antibiotics they contain.
The study says there is an increasingly urgent need to test treatments as well as to develop more effective non-antibiotic therapies.
Hywel Williams, professor of dermato-epidemiology and director of the Centre for Evidence Based Dermatology at the University of Nottingham, said in a press release: "Almost half of recently published acne trials contain serious flaws that could be overcome by better reporting.
"This lack of well-conducted research to test over-the-counter and prescription therapies is putting patients at risk of ineffective treatment and makes treatment decisions for patients and doctors very difficult."
Factors like family history, diet, sunlight, and skin hygiene have all been implicated to cause acne.
A recent study suggested that Western diets might play a role in the condition, given the absence of acne in non-Westernized people in Papua New Guinea and Paraguay.
Williams also said: "The large number of products and product combinations, and the scarcity of comparative studies, has led to disparate guidelines with few recommendations being evidence-based.
"As a result, even recent guidelines are based on the opinion of experts.
"This is of concern because without evidence to support guidelines there is the potential for conflicts of interest."
The study was published in the journal The Lancet.
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