Acne – a new NICE guideline

4th October 2021 by Dr Louise Hudman

Acne – a new NICE guideline

This is a new guideline from NICE on managing acne. Interestingly, this is the first time that NICE has developed a guideline on acne. It was published in June. BMJ have also produced an excellent infographic.

What is new for GPs in this guideline?

The fundamentals of how we manage acne aren’t any different here, but there are a few little bits that they are advising we do differently. I will list the changes, then do a more in-depth summary of the management below.

The following advice was new for me, or I felt maybe new for some colleagues:

  • Advise patients to use a ‘syndet’ (synthetic detergent) cleansing product twice daily on areas that are acne-prone.
  • We should start by offering combination products, rather than offering single products. The evidence suggests that this is more effective, even for mild acne. I have listed the advised treatment options below, but there are no medications that we don’t already routinely use.
  • If the acne completely clears after a 12-week course of oral antibiotics plus a topical treatment, then consider stopping the oral antibiotic but continuing the topical treatment.
  • Only continue oral antibiotic treatment beyond six months in exceptional circumstances. It should then be reviewed every 3m and stopped as soon as possible.
  • If a patient has scarring that persists for a year after their acne has cleared, then refer to dermatology.

NICE’s acne terminology

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