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The University of Southampton

Research project: Acne Care Online

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The Acne Care Online programme aims to aims to support young people with acne to use effective treatments and reduce the overuse of long-term antibiotics

Acne Care Online
Acne Care Online

Acne is very common, can lead to distress and depression and may lead to permanent scarring. Treatment of acne is a major cause of antibiotic use amongst young people, driving antibiotic resistance. Evidence suggests that topical treatments (treatments applied directly to the skin) are effective treatments for most acne. Effective topical treatments are available from pharmacies without a prescription, but many people are unaware of these and buy cosmetic products that don’t really help instead. People often give up with topical treatments because they are not given full advice on how to use them.  For example, they don’t know how to reduce the risk of stinging and redness and that it takes several weeks for treatments to start working. Not using effective treatments can prolong the acne as well as increasing the risk of scarring.


The Acne Care Online programme of research aims to:

  1. Develop an online toolkit to support people with acne to obtain and use effective acne treatments, particularly promoting regular use and avoiding side effects with topical treatments
  2. Test whether the toolkit improves acne-related quality of life and reduces the use of antibiotics in a randomised trial
  3. Explore how the toolkit works, by talking to those that have used it and analysing how they used it
  4. Explore the costs to the NHS and for patients of using the toolkit and estimate its value for money

Local Investigators: Miriam Santer (co-lead), Ingrid Muller (co-lead), Beth Stuart, Paul Little, Lucy Yardley, Nick Francis, Gareth Griffiths

Study team: Dr Mary Steele Research Fellow, Dr Rosie Essery Senior Research Fellow and Becky Le Feuvre Programme Administrator.

Co-applicants: Kim Thomas (Nottingham), Alison Layton (Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust), Matthew Ridd (University of Bristol), Tracey Sach (University of East Anglia), Sinead Langan (London School of Hygiene), Mahendra Patel (University of Bradford), Andrew Thompson (Cardiff & Vale University LHB), Irene Soulsby (public contributor), Sophie Dove (public contributor)

Funder: NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research NIHR202852

Duration: 01/03/2022 to 28/02/2027

Twitter: @AcneCareOnline

Contact: Miriam Santer


This study is being conducted by the Primary Care Research Centre.

Research themes

Improving use of medicines

Supporting self-management

Content areas

  • Infections and antibiotics
  • Long-term conditions

Related research groups

Primary Care, Population Sciences and Medical Education
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