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A randomized comparative trial of a combined oral contraceptive and azelaic acid to assess their effect on sleep quality in adult female acne patients

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Abstract

Several studies have reported an increase in the prevalence of adult female acne. This subtype of acne presents particular characteristics, and can be triggered by several factors such as smoking, stress, the use of oily cosmetics and even by poor sleep. Sleep quality is related to well-being and the maintenance of body homeostasis. In addition, several skin diseases present a bidirectional relationship with sleep, demonstrating an important connection between skin and the central nervous system. With this in mind, we aimed to compare the effect of two types of treatment for adult female acne (azelaic acid or a combined oral contraceptive) on sleep quality and on concentrations of stress hormones. Also, we proposed to assess the correlation of sleep and hormonal parameters with acne severity. In order to do this, 32 women underwent a clinical evaluation, completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) questionnaire and had their blood collected for hormone assays. These procedures were performed at baseline and after 6 months of treatment. At baseline there were no differences between the groups in terms of body mass index, age, acne severity and hormone concentrations. Results showed that both treatments demonstrated effectiveness but that women treated with azelaic acid presented a better sleep quality after the treatment compared to baseline and to the group treated with the combined oral contraceptive. The combined oral contraceptive group presented an increase in cortisol and a decrease in free testosterone concentration in relation to baseline. These data suggest that both azelaic acid and combined oral contraceptive are effective in the treatment of adult female acne but, azelaic acid seems to be a more suitable option for those women who may benefit from a better subjective sleep quality.

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Acknowledgments

Our studies are supported by a fellowship from the Associação Fundo de Incentivo à Pesquisa (AFIP), São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP, grant #2014/00923-4 to RGA, grant #2014/15259-2 to CH, grant #2012/21794-2 to MLA). ST and MLA also received support from Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnológico (CNPq).

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Correspondence to Monica Levy Andersen.

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Combined oral contraceptive (20 µg of EE and 3 mg of DRSP) and 15 % AA gel were provided by Bayer® (Germany).

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R. G. Albuquerque and M. A. D. da Rocha are equal contributors.

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Albuquerque, R.G., da Rocha, M.A.D., Hirotsu, C. et al. A randomized comparative trial of a combined oral contraceptive and azelaic acid to assess their effect on sleep quality in adult female acne patients. Arch Dermatol Res 307, 905–915 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00403-015-1600-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00403-015-1600-0

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