Background: Chemical peels are used as adjuvants for treatment of facial acne. No well-controlled studies have compared alpha- and beta-hydroxy acid peels in the treatment of mild to moderately severe facial acne.
Objective: To compare the efficacy of alpha- and beta-hydroxy acid chemical peels in the treatment of mild to moderately severe facial acne vulgaris.
Materials and methods: Twenty patients were recruited in this split-face, double-blind, randomized, controlled study. An alpha-hydroxy acid (30% glycolic acid) was applied to one-half of the face and a beta-hydroxy acid peel (30% salicylic acid) was applied contralaterally every 2 weeks for a total of six treatments. A blinded evaluator performed quantitative assessment of papules and pustules.
Results: Both chemical peels were significantly effective by the second treatment (p<.05) and there were no significant differences in effectiveness between the two peels. At 2 months posttreatment, the salicylic acid peel had sustained effectiveness. More adverse events were reported with the glycolic acid peel after the initial treatment.
Conclusion: The glycolic acid and salicylic acid peels were similarly effective. The salicylic acid peel had sustained effectiveness and fewer side effects. Alpha- and beta-hydroxy acid peels both offer successful adjunctive treatment of facial acne vulgaris.