Concerned about long-term use of antibiotics for acne?

Acne sufferers can spend months, if not years, on a mix of antibiotics, contributing to the problem of resistance and experiencing side-effects, because GPs do not have guidelines to recommend alternatives such as light therapy that offer a safe and effective treatment.

The NHS spends over £20m a year on topical acne creams of which three quarters contain antibiotics. If unsuccessful or the benefit declines, treatment is then escalated to include the oral antibiotic Tetracycline.

Tetracyclines account for about 18% of all antibiotics consumption according to Public Health England (PHE) , with 92% prescribed by GPs. Reducing topical and oral antibiotics usage for acne would therefore support the international goal of reducing resistance.

The problem of acne is increasing. Dr Rakesh Patalay, consultant dermatologist, says: “Acne is not just a teenage condition. We are seeing increasing numbers of older people with the condition and persistent acne can have a large impact on your quality of life.”

However, GPs are offered very few alternatives to antimicrobials within the British National Formulary/NICE protocol. 

For example, the NHS currently spends £8m a year on anti-microbial benzoyl peroxide treatments. However, a clinical trial by Dr Tony Chu, a consultant dermatologist at Hammersmith Hospital, found that a combination of blue and red light was more effective than benzoyl peroxide cream, and trialists with mild to moderate acne reported a 76% improvement in their skin at 12 weeks compared to 30% using benzoyl peroxide. Furthermore, light had none of the side-effects associated with harsh creams such as burning, itching, dry skin, redness and peeling.

Lumie Clear was developed following this research. It's the only home light therapy treatment to have a light range specifically set at 415nm for the blue light combined with 660nm for the red light, optimising its impact. It can be hand-held or placed on its adjustable stand for hands-free treatment and, when used for each day, there is a noticeable difference in a few weeks.

Light therapy is safe and can be used alongside other treatments. Dr Patalay, says: “Lumie Clear can be used by anyone without prescription and is complementary to other treatments”.

More people are being affected by acne; it is becoming a life-long problem that extends beyond adolescence. Some women are affected later in life and younger men have fewer options for treatment. With the increasing resistance to antibiotics the need for alternatives has a new urgency.

November 18 2014

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