Study aims to improve acne in women

A new study is looking for women with acne in Bristol to participate in a new clinical trial. Led by researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Southampton, the study will investigate whether a spironolactone drug can help improve acne in women.


Scientists at the Universities of Bristol and Southampton want to check whether Spironolactone is useful for treating acne in women. For this, they are looking for women with acne in Bristol to take part in a new clinical trial.

Spironolactone is used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. Lowering high blood pressure avoids strokes, heart attacks, and kidney problems. Likewise, it is used to treat swelling (edema) caused by specific conditions (for example, heart failure, liver disease) by removing excess fluid and improving symptoms, for example, breathing issues.

The drug is believed to lower hormones that trigger grease production by the skin. Well, doctors have prescribed spironolactone ‘off-license’ for women with acne for over 30 years, without robust evidence that it works.

In the study, known as SAFA (Spironolactone for Adult Female Acne), women will be randomly assigned to a group that will take either the spironolactone tablet or a matching placebo (‘dummy’ tablet) for six months.

Dr. Matthew Ridd, a GP and Reader in Primary Care Research in the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol, said: “Some doctors use spironolactone to treat acne in women, especially in the United States, and report successful effects. However, there have hardly been any trials conducted around this, and the biggest trial to date only involved 50 participants. So, there is very little evidence to support the use of spironolactone in adult females with acne.”

“If spironolactone is shown to work for acne in this large study, it will inform national and international guidelines. Results may encourage doctors to prescribe spironolactone instead of antibiotics to treat acne in women.”

Dr. Miriam Santer (University of Southampton) and Dr. Alison Layton (Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust) are leading the work, along with researchers at the Universities of Bristol (principal investigators: Dr. Matthew Ridd and Dr. Debbie Shipley), Cardiff, East Anglia, and Nottingham. Southampton Clinical Trials Unit is running the trial.

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