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    Retinoid Gels May Help Keep Acne Away

    Gels Might Be an Alternative to Oral Antibiotics for Clear Skin Maintenance

    Tazorac Study

    Thiboutot also worked on the Tazorac study, along with experts including James Leyden, MD, of the Skin Study Center in Broomall, Pa.

    The Tazorac study included about 90 patients who had had moderately severe to severe acneacne. Those patients had already taken the oral antibiotic minocycline and applied a pea-sized amount of Tazorac gel to their faces every morning and evening.

    As a result, the patients had cut their acne by at least 75%.

    Next, the researchers assigned patients to one of three maintenance treatments:

    • Tazorac gel with pills lacking any medicine (placebo)
    • Placebo gel with minocycline pills
    • Tazorac gel with minocycline pills

    Twelve weeks later, the researchers checked the patients' skin. "All regimens were effective in sustaining improvements in acne," Leyden and colleagues write.

    What Does 'Maintenance' Mean?

    The journal editorial -- and the studies -- point out that "maintenance" hasn't been officially defined in acne treatment. Without an agreed-upon benchmark, it can be hard to gauge success.

    Future studies should test benzoyl peroxide skin treatments (which are less costly than retinoids) for maintenance therapy, writes editorialist Lee Zane, MD, MAS. Zane works in the dermatology department of the University of California, San Francisco.

    As for the Differin and Tazorac studies, Zane's editorial states that "although admittedly not definitive, these studies offer promising data for the role of retinoids in acne maintenance therapy, and they invite us to give careful consideration to how such therapy should be studied in the future."

    In his editorial, Zane writes that it is "truly a step in the right direction" to be looking for therapeutic options to long-term antibiotic therapy for acne patients.

    The most common adverse side effects reported for the gels included itching for the Differin study and burning, peeling, and redness for the Tazorac study.

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