Topical epidermal growth factor for the improvement of acne lesions: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, split-face trial

Int J Dermatol. 2014 Aug;53(8):1031-6. doi: 10.1111/ijd.12488. Epub 2014 Jun 25.


Acne is one of the most common adverse events associated with the use of anticancer agents, such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors. Based on data from several previous reports, we predicted that topical application of EGF could improve acne vulgaris. To evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of topical recombinant human EGF (rhEGF) cream for the treatment of facial acne vulgaris. Twenty Korean adults with mild to moderate acne vulgaris applied topical rhEGF cream on one half of the face and a vehicle cream on the other half twice daily for six weeks. Clinical assessments were conducted at baseline, two, four, and six weeks. Two assessment methods were applied: inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesion counts and acne severity score by investigator's global assessment. Skin sebum output level and hydration level were also measured at each visit. All volunteers completed the study. At the final visit, inflammatory acne lesions were reduced by 33.5% on the rhEGF-applied side. Non-inflammatory acne lesions also decreased by 25.4%, whereas the lesions on the control side increased. The majority of patients demonstrated improvement on the side of the face where rhEGF cream was applied. Sebum output decreased on the rhEGF side, and skin hydration level increased on both sides. No severe side effects were observed during the study. Topical rhEGF seems to be an effective and safe adjuvant treatment option for mild to moderate acne vulgaris.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / administration & dosage*
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recombinant Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Recombinant Proteins / adverse effects
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin Cream / administration & dosage
  • Skin Cream / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Epidermal Growth Factor