Join Clinical Trials for Acne
Acne is a condition that is characterized by the formation of pimples, which result when tiny pores on the surface of the skin become clogged by dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells. The clog creates a “plug” at the top of the pore. If the plug is white it is referred to as a whitehead, whereas dark plugs are called blackheads.
Sometimes, these plugs can break open, which leads to swelling and the presence of additional red bumps. Occasionally, acne can develop in deeper layers of the skin and result in hard, painful areas of inflammation, known as cysts.
Teenagers are most often affected by acne but it can affect anyone, from infants to the elderly. The formation of acne can be triggered by any number of factors, including hormonal changes associated with puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and the use of certain types of birth control.
In addition, extreme stress can also lead to acne in some individuals. Cosmetic products that are overly greasy or oily can also contribute to its development, as can some medications (in particular steroids). Acne also has a tendency to run in families. Contrary to popular belief, there is a lack of research to support claims that foods such as chocolate, nuts, and those cooked in grease or fat contribute to the development of acne.
If you or a loved one suffers from acne, you are probably well aware of its ability to have a devastating impact on one’s self-confidence and outward appearance. People who suffer from severe acne can experience severe emotional distress in addition to the visible scars it can leave behind.
Fortunately, the world of dermatology is heavily-focused on acne-related research, and many studies are available to investigate new and better methods of preventing and treating acne.
What Will Acne Clinical Trials Be like?
The types of procedures used in acne clinical trials will ultimately depend on the specific nature of the study and what aspect of acne is being studied. Provided below is a list of common procedures, tests, and assessments that may be incorporated into acne clinical trials:
- Detailed physical examination
- A questionnaire or face-to-face interview to provide details related to your history of acne, which may include questions related to the following:
- Date you first developed acne
- Noticeable triggers
- Use of hormonal contraceptives
- Details related to your menstrual cycle (females only)
- Use of cosmetic and personal hygiene products, including sunscreen
- Family history of acne
- Use of prescription or over-the-counter medications, including vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements.
- Treatments you have attempted to use for your acne
- You may also be asked to avoid wearing lotions, perfumes, colognes, or scented make-up on the day(s) of your appointment.
- Questionnaires to evaluate your stress level and/or emotional well-being.
- Blood tests
- Skin or pimple biopsy
- Physical examination to count the number of pimples and/or cysts visible on your skin
- Dietary logs
- Photographs of your skin
- Use of lotions, creams, oral medications, or laser light therapy
Typical Acne Clinical Trial Protocol:
Specific examples of clinical trials for acne might include the following:
- A randomized trial comparing two different concentrations of a new prescription medication designed to treat acne. A trial such as this might require participants to apply a topical lotion or solution to their visible areas of acne two to three times a day for a specific length of time (e.g., 12 weeks). Participants would be observed at regular three-week intervals to document any changes in the number of their pimples. At the conclusion of the study, the two groups would be compared to determine if one particular concentration of the drug was more effective than the other.
- A study to determine if specific dietary changes (e.g., elimination of dairy, increased intake of fiber) are effective at reducing the recurrence of acne among individuals who have received successful treatment for acne using a particular prescription medication.
- A study designed to determine if the use of a newly-developed laser therapy is effective and safe for treating facial acne.
- A randomized clinical trial in which individuals with acne are randomly assigned to receive antibiotic treatment with erythromycin plus a second, newly-developed antibiotic medication, or to receive treatment with erythromycin plus placebo.
A brief word about randomized trials and placebos:
Many clinical trials involve the comparison of an investigational treatment to a “standard” treatment. Some studies determine which therapy a patient receives through a process known as randomization, in which patients are randomly assigned to receive either the investigational treatment or the standard treatment.
On occasion, a trial will investigate the use of a standard treatment plus a new drug compared to standard treatment plus a placebo (such as in the fourth clinical trial example provided above). Placebos are inactive or “sham” treatments that are identical in appearance to the active treatment but have no therapeutic value.
Placebos are necessary to help determine if adverse effects that occur during the clinical trial are the result of the investigational treatment or due to some other factor. They also allow researchers to measure the effects of the active treatment and observe what would have happened without it.
In rare instances where no standard therapy exists, or when a new drug or therapy is being investigated, the investigational treatment might be compared to a placebo alone. In these types of trials, those patients who are randomized to the placebo group do not receive an active treatment.
It is important to know that placebo-only trials are only conducted when scientifically necessary and when patients have been adequately informed that they may end up receiving the placebo rather than the active treatment. It is very important to note, however, that no one should ever participate in such a placebo trial when there is a widely available and highly effective standard treatment already in existence for their particular disease or condition.
Trial Eligibility and Medical Information Needed:
The type of clinical trial you may be eligible for often depends on many factors. Therefore, it is important to know as many details as possible with regard to your specific circumstances when searching for clinical trials. Examples of information you may want to have on hand include the following:
- Your history of treatment for acne.
- Your prior and current diagnoses of any other health conditions or diseases.
- Your current medications (including vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements)
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