The Importance of Photoprotection and Moisturization in Treating Acne Vulgaris

August 2014 | Volume 13 | Issue 8 | Supplement Individual Articles | 89 | Copyright © August 2014

Whitney P. Bowe MDa and Leon H. Kircik MDb

aIcahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY
bIcahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY; Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN;
Physicians Skin Care, PLLC, Louisville, KY

Skin care products are recognized by dermatologists as critical adjunctive therapeutic modalities for patients suffering from acne vulgaris (AV). Prescribing an acne medication without reviewing a patient’s skin care regimen can lead to poor compliance, intolerable side effects, and resulting patient and physician frustration. Striking that delicate balance between maintaining the skin barrier while controlling oil and shine has always been a challenge when treating this chronic inflammatory condition, and it necessitates a unique set of ingredients and formulation. Cetaphil® DermaControl™ Moisturizer SPF 30 (Galderma Laboratories, L.P., Fort Worth, Texas) is a new generation of skin care specifically designed for acne-prone skin and acne-affected skin. Both Cetaphil® DermaControl™ Foam Wash and Cetaphil DermaControl Moisturizer SPF 30 incorporate pharmacologically tested, state-of-the-art ingredients and technologies that studies have shown impart substantial benefits to AV patients.

J Drugs Dermatol. 2014;13(suppl 7):s89-s94.


The primary treatment goals for acne vulgaris (AV) are to achieve initial control of the disease, prevent flares, prevent physical scarring, and manage psychosocial morbiditites.1 Although dermatologists have a number of therapies in their armamentarium that are empirically proven to actualize these goals, therapies such as benzoyl peroxide (BPO) and retinoids (both oral and topical) have the potential to adversely affect epidermal barrier functions and induce skin inflammation.2 The symptoms and cutaneous effects associated with acne treatment include edema, erythema, irritation, inflammation, photosensitivity, and xerosis.3 Furthermore, an increasing body of literature has emerged indicating that AV itself causes epidermal skin barrier impairment because it is associated with a deficiency of ceramides and specifically linoleic acid.2
Sebum production is clearly increased in AV, but AV patients appear to lack healthy, protective fats on the epidermal surface, whose function is to retain moisture in the skin and prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Although AV patients’ skin might have an oily, shiny sheen, we now understand that they are overproducing “bad” fats while under-producing “good” ones—a concept that is both novel and complex.
Not only is nurturing the skin barrier in acne patients and keeping the skin properly hydrated absolutely essential, but the need for photoprotection must also be stressed. Many acne therapies thin the skin and predispose to ultraviolet (UV) damage, and UV damage itself has been shown to generate free radical formation, which has been implicated in acne flares.
Many acne patients may not find it intuitive nor consider it necessary to use a moisturizer or photoprotection as part of their skin care regimen, but it is an essential part of restoring a balanced barrier and long-term skin health. Therefore, it is crucial to counsel acne patients regarding both moisturization and sun protection.
Moisturizers and photoprotectants have the potential to offset the negative dermatological effects of BPO and retinoids and to be highly beneficial for AV patients who are receiving AV therapies.3 They can also be important adjunctive therapeutic modalities for patients with AV if they are noncomedogenic, devoid of skin irritants, and compatible with therapeutic regimens.3
Although there are currently numerous skin care moisturizers on the market, there is a paucity of studies that have evaluated their efficacy and compatibility specifically in AV patients and those with acne-prone skin.4 Consequently, AV patients have a myriad of options with regards to over-the-counter skin care products that have the potential to complement their treatment, but in some cases these products magnify the side effects of prescription therapies or even exacerbate the patient’s AV.4 Therefore, professional direction of patients to skin care products that will complement their prescribed AV therapies is very important in the overall management of AV.4


Cetaphil® DermaControl Moisturizer SPF 30 (Galderma Laboratories, L.P., Fort Worth, Texas) is a new generation of pho-