Complementary and Alternative Methods for Treatment of Acne Vulgaris: a Systematic Review


Purpose of Review

To review the current literature regarding complementary and alternative treatment options for acne vulgaris.

Recent Findings

Acne vulgaris is an increasingly prevalent disease worldwide. While conventional methods of treatment are still primarily used to treat acne, complementary and alternative methods of treatment are becoming utilized in conjunction or in place of prescription medications.


Studies have shown comparable benefit of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies to conventional treatment. Oral green tea extract was a moderately effective treatment of inflammatory acne without significant side effects. Nicotinamide oral and topical preparations demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of moderate inflammatory acne without significant side effects. Oral zinc gluconate was not as effective as oral minocycline in the treatment of inflammatory acne. CAM therapy has relatively few reported side effects for acne vulgaris, and is mildly effective in treatment of inflammatory and comedonal acne. More studies are needed for further comparison of CAM modalities with each other as well as with conventional treatment.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hania K. Flaten.

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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Additional information

Capsule summary

• CAM for acne vulgaris is utilized worldwide but limited studies investigate their safety and effectiveness.

• This article reviews evidence of CAM in treating acne and comparisons of CAM with conventional treatment.

• CAM is a widely used and occasionally effective avenue of treatment in patients wishing for natural therapies.

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Marous, M.R., Flaten, H.K., Sledge, B. et al. Complementary and Alternative Methods for Treatment of Acne Vulgaris: a Systematic Review. Curr Derm Rep 7, 359–370 (2018).

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  • Acne vulgaris
  • Complementary treatment
  • Alternative treatment