The efficacy of combination glycolic acid and salicylic acid for the treatment of comedonal and cystic acne is supported by results from a clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. This topical option may be an appropriate alternative for patients who wish to forgo prescription medication due to cost or adverse events.

Investigators developed a combination serum of glycolic acid and salicylic acid for the treatment of acne. A prospective cohort study was conducted to assess the serum efficacy. Patients with mild to moderate inflammatory or cystic acne, rosacea, folliculitis, or keratosis pilaris were eligible for inclusion. Exclusion criteria included use of chemotherapeutic agents for actinic keratosis and sensitivity to either active serum agent. Participants were asked to stop any concomitant skin treatment and to apply the combination serum each night for 2 weeks. A questionnaire was administered at baseline and follow-up to assess patient experience.

A total of 66 patients participated in the study; none were lost to follow-up. Patient age ranged from 17 to 46 years. Overall, 90% of patients reported a significant overall improvement in acne, either comedonal or cystic. In addition, nearly 80% reported a decrease in skin oil production and an improvement in skin texture. Clinician examination of skin corroborated patient-reported results. One patient stopped using the serum after 1 week due to itchiness. No other adverse events were reported.

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These data support the use of a combination topical serum for the treatment of acne. Patient satisfaction was high, and side effects were rare. “We started the study with a clear goal in mind: to disrupt the routine of using topical benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics for the treatment of acne, due to unwanted side effects,” investigators wrote.  Combination serum may offer an appropriate alternative for these target patients.


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Reference

Wiegmann D, Haddad L. Two is better than one: the combined effects of glycolic acid and salicylic acid on acne-related disorders [published online April 6, 2020]. J Cosmet Dermatol. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13387