The effects of acne treatment with a combination of benzoyl peroxide and erythromycin on skin carriage of erythromycin-resistant propionibacteria.Br J Dermatol 1996; 134(1):107-13BJ
Concomitant application of 5% w/w benzoyl peroxide and 3% w/w erythromycin has previously been shown to prevent the overgrowth, on the skin of acne patients, of erythromycin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci, which occurs when the antibiotic is used alone. Two in vivo studies were carried out to assess the ability of the same therapeutic combination to inhibit the growth of pre-existing erythromycin-resistant propionibacteria and to prevent the selection of resistant strains during treatment. A double-blind clinical trial in 37 patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris showed that the combination brought about a > 3 log10 c.f.u. reduction in total propionibacterial numbers/cm2 after 6 weeks therapy (P < 0.001, Wilcoxon's matched pairs) and also significantly reduced the number of erythromycin-resistant propionibacteria (P < 0.05). In contrast, erythromycin alone reduced the total propionibacterial count by < 1.5 log10 c.f.u./cm2 after 6 weeks (P < 0.05) and did not affect the number of erythromycin-resistant strains. The combined formulation was significantly more effective at reducing total propionibacterial numbers at 6 (P < 0.01, Mann-Whitney) and 12 weeks (P < 0.05) than erythromycin alone, although, after 12 weeks, the anti-propionibacterial efficacy of both preparations was less marked. Five patients on combination therapy, and five treated with erythromycin alone, acquired erythromycin-resistant strains de novo at week 6 or week 12. In an open study in 21 acne patients, who each carried > 10(3) c.f.u. erythromycin-resistant propionibacteria/cm2 skin pretreatment, the combination of erythromycin and benzoyl peroxide reduced the total propionibacterial count by > 2.5 log10 and the number of erythromycin-resistant strains by a similar amount (P < 0.001, Wilcoxon). This was accompanied by highly significant reductions in acne grade and lesion counts (P < 0.001). These data suggest that the combination of 5% w/w benzoyl peroxide and 3% w/w erythromycin has greater in vivo anti-propionibacterial activity than 3% w/w erythromycin alone, and brings about significant clinical improvement in acne patients with high numbers of erythromycin-resistant propionibacterial strains pretreatment.