New Acne Cream Clears Skin Without Harsh Side-effects, Study Shows

Current acne treatments can be harsh to the skin. Getty Images

Researchers have developed a new acne cream that target pimples but is less harsh on the skin than current treatments.

Acne is a condition that erupts when skin cells, hair and an oily substance called sebum gather together. A bacteria called Cutibacterium acnes can thrive in this environment, and this combination causes the skin to swell, and pimples to form. It is not a life-threatening disorder, but can cause scarring.

At the moment, clinicians can prescribe a cream containing benzoyl peroxide; antibiotics to attack the bacteria; or a combination of the two. But benzoyl peroxide can bleach hair and clothing, as well as cause itching, burning and stinging sensations, dryness and redness or irritation. Also, antibiotic use for acne carries a risk that the person may become resistant to the drug in the future.

To find a new treatment for the condition, researchers at Princeton University investigated whether blocking an important receptor in the inflammatory pathway set off by the bacteria could rid the skin of pimples.

In a lab, they tested a new class of anti-inflammatory chemicals. The most promising compound was then made into a cream and trialed on acne sufferers.

The researchers gave 65 study participants with mild-to-moderate acne doses of a cream containing the new compound SIG1459, as well as benzoyl peroxide and a placebo to use twice a day for eight weeks, New Scientist reported.

The individuals using SIG1459 reported a 79% reduction in how severe their acne was compared to 56% for those who used the regular cream. The placebo, meanwhile, had no effect.

The creators claim that SIG1459 also doesn't have any side effects. Their study was published in the journal Experimental Dermatology.

Moving forwards, the researchers want to test the cream on individuals with severe acne. Currently, retinoid cream is used in extreme cases to unclog pores and prevent dead skin cells from blocking the tiny holes. However, side effects can include irritated skin, changes in skin color and sensitivity to sunlight. Muscle soreness can also occur.

Eduardo Pérez of Signum Biosciences, the U.S.-based firm developing the product, told New Scientist the cream could be available as early as next year.