Conference Coverage

Think barrier repair for acne patients



– It’s time to start thinking about barrier repair in acne patients, Hilary E. Baldwin, MD, asserts.

Dr. Hilary Baldwin, medical director, Acne Treatment and Research Center, Morristown, NJ

Dr. Hilary Baldwin

“We think about barrier repair with our psoriasis patients, with our dermatitis patients, and our rosacea patients, but we don’t talk about it much with our acne patients,” Dr. Baldwin said at Skin Disease Education Foundation’s annual Las Vegas Dermatology Seminar. “Now there is increasing evidence that acne pathophysiology may include a barrier defect.”

Both topical and systemic medications exacerbate the problem, because they are so drying, added Dr. Baldwin, medical director of the Acne Treatment & Research Center in Morristown, N.J. Benzoyl peroxide has been shown to increase transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and deplete tocopherol levels in the stratum corneum, while topical retinoids thin the stratum corneum, increase epidermal fragility, and increase TEWL.

The barrier defect may actually decrease medication use – patients are irritated and they stop taking their medication. “An improved barrier may increase the use of medication and also improve acne,” she said.

She described the results of an Internet-based survey of 200 acne patients aged 15-40 years who had been prescribed clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide 5% within the last 6 months (J Drugs Dermatol. 2011 Jun;10[6]:605-8). The researchers found that side effects lead to suboptimal use of the topical medication, as patients reported spot application, use only in flares, infrequent use, and discontinuation.

Further, 31% of patients complained to their doctors’ offices about dryness, 23% said their doctors did not understand the potential side effects, 21% lost confidence in their doctors, 11% said they were less likely to see their doctors again, and 41% reported using moisturizer to combat dryness and erythema.

“No acne visit is complete without a discussion of skin care,” Dr. Baldwin said. Quality moisturization is a must for acne patients and has been shown to improve TEWL, normalize ceramides, and repair the microbiome.

“I recommend moisturizers with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and certainly moisturizers that have been shown to be noncomedogenic,” Dr. Baldwin said. “Most acne patients aren’t willing to use a cream moisturizer during the day – they just feel too greasy – so I have them use a cream in the evening when they are home and a lotion in the morning.”

Lines of jars of skin care products. The view from the top. PainterSaba/iStock/Getty Images

While there has been one very specific study of using a moisturizer before topical medications, there is no good data for this practice, Dr. Baldwin said. “Clearly, though, using a moisturizer reduces irritation, so I prefer to have my patients put on the moisturizer at a different time, but if that doesn’t work, I have them put it on before the medication.”

Dr. Baldwin indicated that she is on the speakers bureau for LaRoche Posay, Galderma, and Valeant, and had received grant and/or contracted research support from Dermira and Valeant.

SDEF and this news organization are owned by the same parent company.

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