Topical Cyproterone Acetate Treatment in Women With Acne: A Placebo-Controlled Trial

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To evaluate the clinical and hormonal response of topically applied cyproterone acetate, oral cyproterone acetate, and placebo lotion in women with acne.


Placebo-controlled, randomized study.


Patients were recruited from the Institute of Endocrine Cosmetics, Vienna, Austria.


Forty women with acne.


Treatment with oral medication consisting of 0.035 mg of ethinyl estradiol and 2 mg of cyproterone acetate (n=12), 20 mg of topical cyproterone acetate lotion (n=12), and placebo lotion (n=16) was offered. Patients were assessed monthly for 3 months.

Main Outcome Measures

Clinical grading according to acne severity and lesion counts as well as determinations of serum cyproterone acetate concentrations.


After 3 months of therapy with topical cyproterone acetate, the decrease of mean facial acne grade from 1.57 to 0.67 was significantly better (P<.05) compared with placebo (which showed a change from 1.57 to 1.25), but not compared with oral medication (1.56 to 0.75) (P >.05). Lesion counts also decreased from 35.9 to 9.1 in the topical cyproterone acetate group compared with oral medication (45.4 to 15.5) (P>.05) and placebo (38.2 to 23.1) (P<.05). After topical cyproterone acetate treatment, serum cyproterone acetate concentrations were 10 times lower than those found after oral cyproterone acetate intake.


The therapeutic effect of topically applied cyproterone acetate for acne treatment was clearly demonstrated. Topically applied sexual steroids in combination with liposomes are as effective as oral antiandrogen medication in acne treatment, while reducing the risk of adverse effects and avoiding high serum cyproterone acetate concentrations.

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