What Patients Say Works Best for Acne

Acne TreatmentsFor the live-updated, fully-labelled, interactive version of this graphic, click here.

By Alexandra Carmichael, Co-Founder of CureTogether

Some of the most effective treatments for acne are not necessarily drugs, according to a new study by CureTogether, a free resource owned by 23andMe that allows people to share information about their health and treatments.

People in the study said they found that lifestyle changes like a paleo diet, reducing sugar, and getting plenty of sunshine were among the most effective in treating acne. In addition, those who participated in the study said that more conventional medical treatments such as Accutane, which ranked at the top of the list, helped a great deal. Conversely some common treatments such as Clearasil, hydrogen peroxide, and soap, were among the least effective, according to the study.

Acne affects millions of Americans and can be embarrassing to experience. Finding accurate recommendations on treatments that work well can be challenging, so CureTogether asked people suffering from acne to rate the effectiveness of different treatments. The study compiled responses from 4,375 people with acne, who rated the effectiveness of 72 different treatments.

Most Effective Rated Treatments for People with Acne
1. Accutane
2. Paleo diet
3. No gluten
4. Bactrim
5. Sunshine
6. 10% Benzoyl Peroxide cream
7. No sugar
8. Avoid touching face
9. No dairy
10. Birth control pill

Where did this data come from? This is the result of a four-year CureTogether study on Acne, in which people living with the condition shared information about their symptoms and what treatments worked best for them. We’d like to thank those who participated. And just as they shared their experience with treatments, we’re freely and openly sharing the results of the acne study.

This is part of a regular series of CureTogether research findings. CureTogether’s research findings are different than those made by 23andMe, which look at genetic associations with illness, traits and drug response. But as we continue our work with the CureTogether community, 23andMe hopes to incorporate more of this kind of self-reported information into our own research. CureTogether present its findings just as they are — patient-reported data — to stimulate discussion and generate new insights for further research.

Please tweet, blog, or pass this along to anyone who can benefit or is interested in acne. Thank you!






  • Aaron

    I am happy to say that I participated in this one. I lived with acne my whole life and not until recent times did I finally connected sugar, dairy, gluten, and a paleo diet to acne. It’s not so obvious because it takes time eliminating it from your diet, and it takes time for the acne to develop after reintroducing to the diet, but patiently I have confirmed it over and over again. I was always suspicious of peanut butter, and have once and for all confirmed it that it is not a sole contributor, but is one of the leading contributors to acne. Acutane works, but is no cure, and can be dangerous. Acne is 100% pure diet, I think your genetics only affect what foods are the contributors and level of sensitivity to foods.

  • Aaron

    Another observation. Acutane makes you very sensitive to the sun, while sunshine was one of the top treatments for acne.I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Acutane is probably some sort of synthetic vitamin d hormone or related to that process by my guess.

  • Anna

    Hi Scott,

    That’s a very interesting bit of research you have here, and while accutane at number one is no surprise, the diet aspects of the results are, and pretty much backs up my own thoughts based on my own research and my stubborness in not believing what the experts tell us about their being no link between diet and acne.

    My view is that it is only a matter of time before they find one, especially as research already done has discovered native peoples who live off nature do not suffer from acne.

    Thank you for such an interesting article :-)

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