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American Journal of Clinical Dermatology

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 345–365 | Cite as

Topical Retinoids in Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review

  • Sree S. KolliEmail author
  • Danielle Pecone
  • Adrian Pona
  • Abigail Cline
  • Steven R. Feldman
Systematic Review

Abstract

Background

Topical retinoids are a first-line treatment for acne vulgaris.

Objective

This systematic review aims to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of topical retinoids approved in the United States for the treatment of acne vulgaris.

Methods

A PubMed and Embase search was conducted using the search terms ‘adapalene,’ ‘tretinoin,’ ‘tazarotene,’ and ‘acne vulgaris.’ Selection of articles fit the following inclusion criteria: clinical trials evaluating both efficacy and safety/tolerability of topical retinoids approved in the United States for the treatment of acne vulgaris and published between January 1, 2008 and September 1, 2018. Exclusion criteria included clinical trials involving 20 subjects or fewer, subjects under 12 years of age, and topical retinoid combination therapies with moisturizers or aloe vera. Of 424 search results found, a total of 54 clinical trials were chosen based on selection criteria.

Results

Topical retinoids are superior to vehicle in improving Investigator Global Assessment and Investigator’s Static Global Assessment (24.1–28.8% and 13.3–17.3%, respectively; p < 0.001). A topical retinoid combined with benzoyl peroxide led to IGA improvement compared with vehicle (26.1–34.9% vs 7–11.8%; p < 0.001) at Week 12. Topical retinoid plus an oral antibiotic was superior to vehicle in reducing lesion counts (64–78.9% vs 41–56.8%, p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in efficacy between tretinoin and tazarotene. Tretinoin 0.05% resulted in 62% of patients experiencing AEs compared with adapalene 0.1% (19%) and adapalene 0.3% (40%). More patients receiving adapalene were tolerant of the AEs compared with tazarotene (55.4% vs 24.4%; p < 0.0012).

Conclusions

Topical retinoids are safe and efficacious for the treatment of acne vulgaris. They should be used in combination with benzoyl peroxide to optimize results in patients. The differences in efficacy of topical retinoids appears minor; therefore, the type of topical retinoid is not as important as choosing a particular strength of topical retinoid and combining it with an antimicrobial agent. Adapalene has a superior tolerability profile amongst topical retinoids.

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Funding

There was no funding source for this article.

Conflict of interest

Dr Steven Feldman is a speaker for Janssen and Taro. He is a consultant and speaker for Galderma, Stiefel/GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott Labs, and Leo Pharma Inc. Dr Feldman has received grants from Galderma, Janssen, Abbott Labs, Amgen, Stiefel/GlaxoSmithKline, Celgene, and Anacor. He is a consultant for Amgen, Baxter, Caremark, Gerson Lehrman Group, Guidepoint Global, Hanall Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, Kikaku, Lilly, Merck & Co Inc, Merz Pharmaceuticals, Mylan, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer Inc, Qurient, Suncare Research, and Xenoport. He is on an advisory board for Pfizer Inc. Dr Feldman is the founder and holds stock in Causa Research and holds stock and is majority owner in Medical Quality Enhancement Corporation. He receives royalties from UpToDate and Xlibris. Sree Kolli, Dr Danielle Pecone, Dr Adrian Pona, and Dr Abigail Cline have no conflicts to disclose.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sree S. Kolli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Danielle Pecone
    • 1
  • Adrian Pona
    • 1
  • Abigail Cline
    • 1
  • Steven R. Feldman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Dermatology, Center for Dermatology ResearchWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  3. 3.Department of Public Health SciencesWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA

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