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[3 min read] Do cleansers help relieve acne?

Do over-the-counter cleansers help relieve symptoms of acne? Over-the-counter cleansers and washers are common interventions in acne vulgaris but the clinical evidence for their benefit is poorly understood.

Researchers at the NYU School of Medicine performed a systematic review of clinical studies to determine the efficacy of washing and cleansers in treating acne, to guide physicians’ treatment recommendations.

Fourteen studies representing 671 participants were included in the review. Each study looked at a single over-the-counter cleanser or washing intervention with an objective acne outcome measurement, and they were all published in peer-reviewed journals.

Modalities investigated included face washing frequency, soaps versus syndetbars (e.g. Dove bar),
gentle liquid cleansers, antiseptics, benzoyl peroxide, α-hydroxy acids and salicylic acid cleansers. Unfortunately, the studies were limited by lack of randomisation, absent or weak controls, small sample sizes and different outcome measures.

Given the low number of well-performed clinical studies of cleansers and washing, researchers reported that it was difficult to formulate reliable recommendations, but hoped that their findings highlight the necessity of further investigation in this area.

This study supports a common view that washing and cleansers do not play a significant role in acne control, and that the choice of topical agents or oral treatments are the managements that determine effectiveness.

What do you think?


Read more recent research on acne.

Source: Thomas Stringer, Arielle Nagler, Seth J. Orlow & Vikash S. Oza (2018) Clinical evidence for washing and cleansers in acne vulgaris: a systematic review, Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 29:7, 688-693, DOI: 10.1080/09546634.2018.1442552

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