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Acne Scars: Is There Any Help on the Horizon?

Atrophic scarring is the most frequent, permanent side effect of acne vulgaris. Severe scars contribute to depression, anxiety, body image alterations, low self-esteem, and can even be a risk factor for suicide. The cause of atrophic acne scars is not completely understood, but it is most likely due to dysregulated inflammation culminating in collagen deficiency and tissue atrophy. There is a strong correlation between delay in initiating treatment, and therefore longer duration of the inflammatory response, and acne scar formation.

Currently, the most effective treatments include chemical peels, dermabrasion, resurfacing lasers, and percutaneous collagen needling. No one therapy has been shown to achieve complete scar resolution.

Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is released during the inflammatory response and has been shown to accelerate healing in damaged skin and stimulate fibroblast proliferation leading to deposition of collagen. While resurfacing procedures rely on skin injury to trigger the release of EGF, topical application could offer the effects of EGF without the associated discomfort and recovery time.

In a recently published study in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, authors evaluated the appearance of Goodman & Baron grade II-IV atrophic acne scars in patients treated with a topically applied synthetic EGF serum. Participants followed a standardized treatment regimen consisting of twice-daily application of EGF serum to scarred areas over 12 weeks.

The study showed that topical EGF may improve the appearance of atrophic acne scars though the sample size was small. Compared to baseline there was a significant improvement in mean IGA score, mean Goodman & Baron grade, and blind investigator ratings of scar severity for each before & after photograph. On final self-assessment, all but one patient reported “good” to “excellent” improvement in their scars compared to baseline and 75% of patients who received alternative treatments prior to the study reported EGF serum to be more efficacious. Further studies with larger sample sizes and more objective evaluation measures are required to make definitive conclusions.

Byline: Kinsley Cowart, PA-S and Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C

Source: Seidel R, Moy R. Improvement in Atrophic Acne Scars Using Topical Synthetic Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) Serum: A Pilot Study. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. 2015; 14(9):1005-1010.

Adapted from the original article.

[image by zeevveez]

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