Update and future of systemic acne treatment

Dermatology. 2003;206(1):37-53. doi: 10.1159/000067821.

Abstract

Systemic treatment is required in patients with moderate-to-severe acne, especially when acne scars start to occur. Antibiotics with anti-inflammatory properties, such as tetracyclines (oxytetracycline, tetracycline chloride, doxycycline, minocycline and limecycline) and macrolide antibiotics (erythromycin and azithromycin) are the agents of choice for papulopustular acne, even though the emerging resistant bacterial strains are minimizing their effect, especially regarding erythromycin. Systemic antibiotics should be administered during a period of 8-12 weeks. In severe papulopustular and in nodulocystic/conglobate acne, oral isotretinoin is the treatment of choice. Hormonal treatment represents an alternative regimen in female acne, whereas it is mandatory in resistant, severe pubertal or post-adolescent forms of the disease. Compounds with anti-androgenic properties include estrogens combined with progestins, such as ethinyl estradiol with cyproterone acetate, chlormadinone acetate, desogestrel, drospirenone, levonogestrel, norethindrone acetate, norgestimate, and other anti-androgens directly blocking the androgen receptor (flutamide) or inhibiting androgen activity at various levels, corticosteroids, spironolactone, cimetidine, and ketoconazole. After 3 months of treatment control of seborrhea and acne can be obtained. Low-dose corticosteroids (prednisone, prednisolone, or dexamethasone) are indicated in patients with adrenal hyperandrogenism or acne fulminans. New developments and future trends represent low-dose long-term isotretinoin regimens, new isotretinoin formulations (micronized isotretinoin), isotretinoin metabolites, combination treatments to reduce toxicity, insulin-sensitizing agents, 5alpha-reductase type 1 inhibitors, antisense oligonucleotide molecules, and, especially, new anti-inflammatory agents, such as lipoxygenase inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Androgen Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Androgen Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cheilitis / chemically induced
  • Clindamycin / therapeutic use
  • Cyproterone / therapeutic use
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Isotretinoin / adverse effects
  • Isotretinoin / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tetracyclines / therapeutic use

Substances

  • Androgen Antagonists
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Tetracyclines
  • Clindamycin
  • Cyproterone
  • Isotretinoin