Relationship between sebostatic activity, tolerability and efficacy of three topical drugs to treat mild to moderate acne

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2007 Mar;21(3):320-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2006.01914.x.


Background: Acne is a multifactorial disorder in which the sebum plays an important pathogenetic role.

Purpose of the study: To evaluate the sebostatic effect of three anti-acneic ingredients (azelaic acid, adapalene and benzoyl peroxide) conveyed in cream and to determine whether there is a correlation with the therapeutic results.

Materials and methods: Sixty-five patients with mild or moderate acne localized on the face were divided into three therapy groups at random: 25 applied azelaic acid once a day, 20, benzoyl peroxide and 20, adapalene. All the patients were observed at the time of enrolling and a further four times at fortnightly intervals. At each visit the sebum casual level on the forehead, chin and one cheek was measured using a sebumeter. Furthermore, side-effects and clinical-therapeutic effectiveness were noted.

Results: Four patients did not complete the study. Azelaic acid showed an average reduction of 13.9% in sebum production on the forehead, 14.2% on the chin and 15.2% on the cheek. Benzoyl peroxide caused an increase of 10.5% in sebum production on the forehead, 10.3% on the chin and 25.4% on the cheek. Adapalene reduced sebaceous secretion by 0.2% on the forehead and 6.7% on the cheek whereas sebum production increased by 6.2% on the chin. All three drugs showed a clinical improvement in the acneic lesions with moderate adverse effects.

Conclusion: The three topical drugs bring about good therapeutic results with scarce side-effects that do not, however, seem to be correlated with the sebostatic activity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Adapalene
  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Benzoyl Peroxide / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Dicarboxylic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Facial Dermatoses / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Naphthalenes / administration & dosage*
  • Ointments
  • Sebum / drug effects*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Dicarboxylic Acids
  • Naphthalenes
  • Ointments
  • Adapalene
  • azelaic acid
  • Benzoyl Peroxide