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from study emphasis added by me

BACKGROUND: Acne is a multifactorial disorder in which the sebum plays an important pathogenetic role. PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: To evaluate the sebostatic effect of three anti-acneic ingredients (azelaic acid, adapalene and benzoyl peroxide) conveyed in cream and to determine whether there is a correlation with the therapeutic results. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Sixty-five patients with mild or moderate acne localized on the face were divided into three therapy groups at random: 25 applied azelaic acid once a day, 20, benzoyl peroxide and 20, adapalene. All the patients were observed at the time of enrolling and a further four times at fortnightly intervals. At each visit the sebum casual level on the forehead, chin and one cheek was measured using a sebumeter. Furthermore, side-effects and clinical-therapeutic effectiveness were noted. RESULTS: Four patients did not complete the study. Azelaic acid showed an average reduction of 13.9% in sebum production on the forehead, 14.2% on the chin and 15.2% on the cheek. Benzoyl peroxide caused an increase of 10.5% in sebum production on the forehead, 10.3% on the chin and 25.4% on the cheek. Adapalene reduced sebaceous secretion by 0.2% on the forehead and 6.7% on the cheek whereas sebum production increased by 6.2% on the chin. All three drugs showed a clinical improvement in the acneic lesions with moderate adverse effects. CONCLUSION: The three topical drugs bring about good therapeutic results with scarce side-effects that do not, however, seem to be correlated with the sebostatic activity.

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Actually, that 2007 study is the FIRST one ever to show even a mild reduction in sebum production with the use of topical azelaic acid. There are four previous studies which showed no effect at all, and that's in both humans and animals. I can cite all four of them here, if anybody wants to see them.

So overall, the preponderance of evidence indicates that azelaic acid does little or nothing to reduce sebum production.

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Here's the negative evidence for topical azelaic acid (I'm copy/pasting this material from something I posted recently on another site):

And now for the NEGATIVE evidence on azelaic acid! I came up with the following four studies from my Study Stack --- there may be others, too, on its lack of effect on sebaceous glands, but I originally found these with just a quick search (three of them are in humans, one is in hamsters):

"Clinical and Laboratory Studies on Treatment with 20% Azelaic Acid Cream for Acne", Cunliffe et al, Acta Derm Venereol (Stockh) 1989; Suppl 143: 31-34. "DISCUSSION [...] No changes in sebum excretion rate were observed--hence azelaic acid does not modify sebaceous gland activity..."

"Effects of Azelaic Acid on Sebaceous Gland, Sebum Excretion Rate and Keratinization Pattern in Human Skin", Mayer-Da-Silva et al, Acta Derm Venereol (Stockh) 1989; Suppl 143: 20-30. "Results of the Clinical Trial [...] The size of the glands and the size and number of the gland lobules of each group in the population (normal, seborrheic and acne) were evaluated before and after treatment (AZA and vehicle). Skilled statistical evaluation of the specimens obtained before and after treatment revealed no differences between the AZA-treated side or the vehicle side of normal, seborrheic or acne skin...Our results show that AZA, when applied topically over a period of 3 months, does not induce alterations in the size of the sebaceous glands, leading us to suggest that AZA does not exert any direct influence on the functional activity of the sebaceous gland. Conclusion [...] In contrast, no significant changes could be found after topical application of AZA with regard to the sebum excretion rate and the size of sebaceous glands."

"Pharmacologic Investigation of Azelaic Acid", Rach et al, J Invest Dermatol 1986; 86: 327. "The hamster ear lipogenesis model was used to evaluate the influence of azelaic acid on sebaceous gland activity. No effect on lipogenesis was observed following a treatment over a 4-month period with a 10% azelaic acid solution."

This is a Letter to the Editor from J.R. Marsden and Sam Shuster (Br J Dermatol 1983; 109: 723-724): "...We have measured the effect on sebum excretion rate (SER) and acne lesion count of 20% azelaic acid cream applied twice daily to the forehead for 6 weeks. In nine patients (six male, three female, aged 17-32 years) mean SER was 1.8 ug/cm^2/min +/- 0.3 s.e.m. before treatment. After treatment there were small increases of SER in eight and a small decrease in one, so that mean SER was 2.0 ug/cm^2/min +/- 0.3 s.e.m. [...] Interestingly, although seven out of nine patients said that the treated skin was 'drier', there was no change in skin appearance. With all previously studied sebostatic agents a therapeutically worthwhile decrease in SER would be easily detectable by the end of the 6-week treatment even with the small number of patients studied. Thus, unless azelaic acid has a unique cumulative action we conclude that it is unlikely to have a useful sebostatic effect."

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I've been using Finacea, which has been pretty good overall, but has had no effect (positive or negative) on my oil production

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