Expert Spotlights Recent Advances in the Medical Treatment of Acne

Doug Brunk

October 08, 2020

In the opinion of Lawrence F. Eichenfield, MD, recent advances in the medical treatment of acne make it "an exciting time" for treating patients with the condition.

During the virtual annual Masters of Aesthetics Symposium, he highlighted the following new acne treatment options:

  • Trifarotene cream 0.005% (Aklief). This marks the first new retinoid indicated for acne in several decades. It is indicated for the topical treatment of acne vulgaris in patients 9 years of age and older and has been studied in acne of the face, chest, and back. "It's nice to have in our armamentarium," he said.

  • Tazarotene lotion 0.045% (Arazlo). The 0.1% formulation of tazarotene is commonly used for acne, but it can cause skin irritation, dryness, and erythema. The new 0.045% formulation was developed in a three-dimensional mesh matrix, with ingredients from an oil-in-water emulsion. "This allows for graduated dosing on the skin without as much irritation," said Dr. Eichenfield, who is chief of pediatric and adolescent dermatology at Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego.

  • Minocycline 4% topical foam (Amzeeq). This marks the first and only topical minocycline prescription treatment for acne. "Its hydrophobic composition allows for stable and efficient delivery of inherently unstable pharmaceutical ingredients," he said. "There is no evidence of photosensitivity as you'd expect from a minocycline-based product, and there are low systemic levels compared with oral minocycline."

  • Clascoterone cream 1% (Winlevi). This first-in-class topical androgen receptor inhibitor has been approved for the treatment of acne in patients 12 years and older. It competes with dihydrotestosterone and selectively targets androgen receptors in sebocytes and hair papilla cells. "It has been studied on the face and trunk and has been shown to inhibit sebum production, reduce secretion of inflammatory cytokines, and inhibit inflammatory pathways," said Dr. Eichenfield, who is also professor of dermatology and pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego.

  • From a systemic standpoint, sarecycline, a new tetracycline class antibiotic, has been approved for the treatment of inflammatory lesions of nonnodular moderate to severe acne vulgaris in patients 9 years and older. The once-daily drug can be taken with or without food in a weight-based dose. "This medicine appears to have a narrow spectrum of antibacterial activity compared with other tetracyclines," he said. "It may have less of a negative effect on gut microbiome than traditional oral antibiotics."

As for integrating these new options into existing clinical practice, Dr. Eichenfield predicts that the general approach to acne treatment will remain the same. "We'll have to wait to see where the topical androgens fit into the treatment algorithms," he said. "Our goal is to minimize scarring, minimize disease, and to modulate the disease course."

Dr. Eichenfield disclosed that he has been an investigator and/or consultant for Almirall, Cassiopea, Dermata, Foamix, Galderma, L'Oreal, and Ortho Dermatologics.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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