[Skip to Navigation]
March 1994

A Comparison of the Efficacy of Topical Tretinoin and Low-Dose Oral Isotretinoin in Rosacea

Author Affiliations

From the Section of Dermatology, University of Arizona, Tucson (Drs Ertl and Levine), and the Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, (Dr Kligman).

Arch Dermatol. 1994;130(3):319-324. doi:10.1001/archderm.1994.01690030051008

Background and Design:  Twenty-two patients with severe or recalcitrant rosacea were divided into three treatment groups in a randomized, double-blind trial that compared low-dose oral isotretinoin (10 mg/d), topically applied tretinoin (0.025% cream), and the combined use of both isotretinoin and tretinoin. For the first 16 weeks of the trial, subjects received one of these three trial regimens. For the final 16 weeks, isotretinoin was withheld while tretinoin cream or a placebo cream was continued.

Results:  Twenty subjects completed the trial. Each treatment produced therapeutic benefits with regard to the number of papules and pustules and erythema. Treatment with oral isotretinoin appeared to give a more rapid onset of improvement, but there were no differences between the groups after 16 weeks. This level of improvement continued during the succeeding 16 weeks of observation whether the subjects used the tretinoin or the placebo cream. Adverse events were minimal and well tolerated in all groups.

Conclusions:  Low-dose oral isotretinoin and topical tretinoin cream therapy appear to be beneficial in the treatment of severe or recalcitrant rosacea. No additive benefit is noted with the combined use of these two modalities.(Arch Dermatol. 1994;130:319-324)

Add or change institution