A group of researchers led by the University of Southampton, UK, conducted a trial that showed the potential of spironolactone to treat women suffering from persistent acne.

Spironolactone is a drug that is cheap and readily available and used for treating high blood pressure for decades.

Results from the SAFA trial, which was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), showed a new path for the way women are routinely treated for acne, enhanced acne outcomes and minimise the use of antibiotics currently prescribed for the skin condition.

Run by the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, the trial enrolled more than 400 women aged over 18.

The participants had acne for over six months and for them, oral antibiotics would have usually been provided as the next line of treatment.

During the trial, half of the women were randomly distributed to receive spironolactone and the other half were treated with a placebo or dummy pill.

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The women were requested to fill up questionnaires on their acne and quality of life associated with the condition at the beginning of the trial and then at weeks 12 and 24 into their treatment.

University of Southampton GP professor and trial co-lead Miriam Santer said: “The results showed that the women taking spironolactone saw a significant improvement in their acne after 12 and 24 weeks compared to those on the placebo.

“A significantly higher proportion of people also reported that they felt satisfied that their skin had been helped compared with those receiving placebo, and any side effects were uncommon and very minor.

“These results show that spironolactone could offer an alternative to antibiotics for many women with persistent acne to use alongside topical acne treatments.”