Current options for the topical treatment of acne vulgaris

Pediatr Dermatol. 1997 Nov-Dec;14(6):480-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.1997.tb00696.x.


The etiopathogenesis of acne vulgaris, a common disorder of youth and adolescence, includes four primary processes: hyperkeratinization (plugging) of the pilosebacous follicles, increased testosterone levels, bacterial colonization with Propionibacterium acnes, and inflammation. No single agent has yet been developed that addresses all of these factors. Combination regimens, therefore, which usually include an antibiotic and an agent to reduce follicular plugging, have become the mainstay of treatment. Despite a relative dearth of new treatments for almost a decade, recent research has produced a number of new significant oral and topical agents. Azelaic acid, a naturally occurring dicarboxylic acid analogue, has shown promise, and a group of retinoids that include adapalene, tazarotene, and reformulations of tretinoin represent new and forthcoming agents for topical treatment of acne vulgaris. Some studies indicate that several of these agents are associated with less skin irritation than previous formulations while they retain potent comedolytic activity. Adapalene also possesses significant anti-inflammatory activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / diagnosis
  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Benzoyl Peroxide / administration & dosage
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratolytic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Retinoids / administration & dosage*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Retinoids
  • Benzoyl Peroxide