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Azithromycin for the treatment of acne.

BACKGROUND: Acne affects a large number of young adults, including women, who often present with facial as well as truncal involvement. Systemic antimicrobial agents currently used for the reduction of inflammatory papules and cysts require frequent administration and are sometimes associated with uncomfortable side-effects contributing to a decrease in compliance.

METHODS: Ninety-nine episodes of inflammatory acne in 79 patients treated with oral antimicrobial agents were studied retrospectively over a period of 46 weeks. Patients were treated with tetracycline, erythromycin, minocycline, and doxycycline, the most commonly prescribed oral antimicrobials used to treat acne. Individuals that were unable to tolerate this therapy or had failed conventional therapy were treated with the azalide antibiotic azithromycin, given in a single oral 250-mg dose three times a week. The other agents were administered daily in divided doses as is current practice. Patients were also on topical care.

RESULTS: The efficacy and reported side-effects were examined for all agents. Significant improvement was noted in 4 weeks. All agents were effective in reducing inflammatory lesions and improving acne. Azithromycin produced a slightly higher percentage of patients with a greater than 80% reduction in their inflammatory acne lesions (85.7%) vs. an average of 77.1% for all other agents. All differences observed were not statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: The results show that azithromycin is a safe and effective alternative in the treatment of inflammatory acne with few side-effects and good compliance, and suggest the need for further investigation with a clinical trial that will compare the long-term efficacy and tolerability.

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