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    OCPs match antibiotics in acne treatment

    Though it’s known that oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) and systemic antibiotics are both effective in managing acne, there’s been precious little research comparing the two therapies head-to-head — until now.

    A research team from Harvard Medical School, Boston, conducted a systematic literature review to compare the efficacy of antibiotics and OCPs in managing acne. The review of 226 publications included 32 randomized, controlled trials.

    The researchers found that at three and six months, both antibiotics and OCPs led to a greater percent of reduction in inflammatory, noninflammatory and total lesions compared to placebo. The two treatments achieved similar results at each time point, though at the three-month point, antibiotics (48 percent) outperformed OCPs (37.3 percent) in percent reduction of total lesions; placebo attained a 24.5 percent rate. At six months, OCPs generated a 55 percent total-lesion reduction rate, oral antibiotic treatment a 52.8 percent rate; placebo attained a 28.6 percent rate.

    “Although antibiotics may be superior at three months,” study authors wrote, “OCPs are equivalent to antibiotics at six months in reducing acne lesions and, thus, may be a better first-line alternative to systemic antibiotics for long-term acne management in women.”

    The review was published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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