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Antihistamine: A Useful Medication with Minimal Adverse Drug Reactions to Improve Acne Symptoms and Reduce Sebum Production

8 August 2015


Background: Acne vulgaris is a common skin disease that affects not only teenagers but also the general population. Although acne is not physically disabling, its psychological impact can be striking, contributing to low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. As a result, there is a significant demand for effective acne therapies. Antihistamine is a widely used medication to treat several allergic skin conditions and yet it also has been found to decrease complications of acne and improve acne symptoms. For the severe cystic acne vulgaris, oral retinoids such as isotretinoin is the primary treatment; however, health care providers hesitate to prescribe isotretinoin due to its adverse drug reactions. On the other hand, antihistamine is well known by its safe and minimal side effects. Can an antihistamine intervention in standardized treatment of acne vulgaris significantly impact the improvement of acne symptoms and reduce sebum production?

Methods: An exhaustive search was conducted by MEDLINE-OVID, CINAHL, UptoDate, Web of Science, Google scholar, MEDLINE-PubMed, Clinicalkey, and ProQuest by using keywords: acne vulgaris and antihistamine. Relevant articles were assessed for quality using GRADE.

Results: After the exhaustive search, two studies met the inclusion criteria and eligibility criteria. Effect of antihistamine as an adjuvant treatment of isotretinoin in acne:a randomized, controlled comparative study contains the comparison of 20 patients with moderate acne are treated with isotretinoin and another 20 patients with moderate acne are treated with additional antihistamine. Identification of Histamine Receptors and Reduction of Squalene Levels by an Antihistamine in Sebocytes was conducted on human tissue to verify the decrease of sebum production by the antihistamine’s effect.

Conclusion: Both studies demonstrate the usefulness of an histamine antagonist in reducing sebum production and improving acne symptoms. Due to its low cost and safety, a recommendation can be made for antihistamine to treat acne vulgaris as an adjuvant therapy to standardized treatment.


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