For citation purposes: Milani M. Acne, anti-acne therapies and epidermal barrier functions: the role of adjuvant treatments. OA Dermatology 2013 Sep 01;1(1):4.

Critical review


Acne, anti-acne therapies and epidermal barrier functions: the role of adjuvant treatments

M Milani

Authors affiliations

Isdin Medical Department Milan (Italy) and Corporate Medical Advisor Isdin Barcelona (Spain)

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Acne is the most common skin disease affecting up to 80% of both male and female adolescents. There are several different medications for the treatment of acne, both topical and systemic. Despite the fact that several drugs could be used for acne treatment, acne lesions complete cure is often very difficult to achieve. One important problem which could be considered as a major or relevant cause for this limited therapeutic success is a low patient adherence to specific acne treatments and/or recommendations from the dermatologist. The aim of this critical review was to discuss the role of treatments of acne.


Acne treatment and in particular oral retinoids can alter skin barrier function in treated patients. Several therapies used to treat acne can induce epidermis changes altering the normal physiological skin barrier function. These alterations are responsible mechanisms for causing side effects manifesting in the skin of acne treated patients. Even if these alterations could be transient they could be a frequent reason for interrupting or stopping the treatment by the patient. An effective strategy for acne treatment should be based on a simple and effective therapy scheme taking into account that a holistic approach with adjuvant products with the aim to preserve skin barrier function and reducing skin side effects of specific treatments, could help in improving patient adherence to treatments with a consequent better clinical outcome in terms of acne lesions resolution.


Barrier repair therapy (the use of specific emollient/moisturising products) could represent a relevant strategy as a holistic approach of acne patients, preventing skin barrier alteration, reducing the frequency and intensity of anti-acne-specific treatments cutaneous side effects, improving patient adherence to drug treatment as a consequence of better clinical outcome in terms of acne lesion improvement.

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