Vyvian (XueQing) Jiang, BSc Pharm Student
Facial acne is a huge burden on some people – it’s an issue that’s been widely discussed, and there’s a wide range of treatments to deal with it. But what about acne on other areas of the body? While the face is the most commonly talked-about area, acne can actually present itself just about anywhere on the body. Specifically, truncal acne – also known as body acne is particularly painful despite not being visible. In practice, one of the most common treatments we see for truncal acne is a medication called dapsone.
Treating Acne of the Torso1
Like facial acne, a lot of the same treatments can be used for non-facial acne, with the added consideration that affected areas of the trunk are often larger than that of the face. For that reason, oral therapies are often used together with topical creams and gels. One of the most common oral medications would be isotretinoin or a mild antibiotic, combined with a topical medication like Tactupump.®
What Is Dapsone?2
Dapsone or Aczone® is a prescription acne cream that also works as an antibiotic when taken as a pill. The exact mechanism for how this works in acne is not known to us, but there’s strong evidence showing that Aczone® is effective. Currently, Dapsone is most often marketed at 5% strength, but one recent study found that the 7.5% strength may be more effective, which we’ll talk about later.
The proper way to use dapsone is to wash your hands before and after use, then apply the cream to a clean, dry area twice a day (if possible) and gently massage it in. If the medication does not show improvement within 12 weeks, it would be a good idea to consult with your clinician for re-assessment.
Some potential side effects of this drug are general signs of irritated skin (redness, oil skin or peeling skin, burning and itchiness).
This medication should not be used in pregnant or nursing women due to potential harm for the fetus.
Higher Strength Dapsone1
One study decided to test and see if the higher strength 7.5% dapsone (which is not commercially available) by itself, applied once a day instead of twice daily would be effective for truncal acne. What they found is that the 7.5% strength did provide a benefit, and the side effects were perfectly tolerable. However, the study didn’t include any patients using the 5% dapsone to compare the differences side-by-side. Therefore, all we can conclude is that the 7.5% dapsone works, and it only needs to be applied once a day – but it can’t be said yet whether or not it will work better or worse.
The Bottom Line
Non-facial acne is still very much a concern for people but is yet to be as well-studied. We discussed a bit about dapsone cream, also known by the brand name Aczone® as an effective anti-acne agent with the potential side effects of redness, oily skin and peeling skin. In addition, the 7.5% cream looks promising, and may even be a better option – however, time will tell.
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- Del Rosso, J., Kircik, L., & Tanghetti, E. (2018). Management of Truncal Acne Vulgaris with Topical Dapsone 7.5% Gel. Journal Of Clinical And Aesthetic Dermatology, 11(8), 45-50. Retrieved from http://europepmc.org/articles/PMC6122512;jsessionid=005A1FFDEA00FC97856B6E54F3BC3775