Evidence base: Acne vulgaris

Keep up to date with the latest evidence for the management of acne vulgaris

Acne most commonly affects the back, face and chest (Photograph: Dr Anneke Kai and Dr Sandeep Cliff)
Acne most commonly affects the back, face and chest (Photograph: Dr Anneke Kai and Dr Sandeep Cliff)

Research and reviews

A BMJ Clinical Evidence review article on acne vulgaris. The authors conducted a systematic review aiming to answer the question: 'What are the effects of topical and oral treatments in people with acne vulgaris?'

A Review of acne in ethnic skin: Pathogenesis, clinical manifestations and management strategies.


  • There are currently no NICE guidelines on the treatment of acne but advice for GPs on when to refer patients with acne to secondary care can be found in the Referral Advice document published by NICE in 2001 (pages six and seven). This is available at www.nice.org.uk/media/94D/BE/Referraladvice.pdf
  • The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) has recently published guidelines on the safe use of isotretinoin: Advice on the safe introduction and continued use of isotretinoin in acne in the UK 2010.8 This can be accessed via the BAD website: www.bad.org.uk//site/622/default.aspx
Key texts
  • Lebwohl M, Heymann W, Berth-Jones J et al. Treatment of skin disease. 3rd edition. Elsevier. 2010 (pages six to 11).

This book gives a summary of treatment strategies for acne and their underlying levels of evidence.

  • Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Rapini RP. Dermatology, 2nd edition. Mosby. 2008. A more detailed but manageable text on acne can be found in volume one (pages 495-508) of the two-volume textbook. This section gives an excellent and thorough review of pathogenesis, clinical features and management.

The RCGP covers this topic in statement 15.10, Skin Problems gponline.com/curriculum


An easily accessible resource with details on diagnosis and management of acne, with clinical pictures.

This is regularly updated (last updated June 2010).


Contributed by Dr Anneke Kai, specialist registrar in dermatology, and Dr Sandeep Cliff, consultant dermatologist, St Helier Hospital, Carshalton, Surrey


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