Topical Synthetic Epidermal Growth Factor Serum for Atrophic Acne Scars in Skin of Color


eMediNexus    20 January 2023

Atrophic scarring in the skin of color is a common, permanent and distressing sequelae of uncontrolled acne vulgaris. Ablative lasers and chemical peels are often used to improve the appearance of atrophic scars, primarily by stimulating collagen and elastin. However, these treatment modalities are associated with risks, like dyspigmentation and hypertrophic scarring, especially in patients with darker skin.


The present study evaluated the efficacy of topically applied synthetic epidermal growth factor (EGF) serum in reducing the appearance of atrophic acne scars in the skin of color.


The study enrolled 12 healthy men and women (average age 32.5) with Fitzpatrick Type IV-V skin and evidence of facial grade II-IV atrophic acne scars. Subjects received topical EGF serum application to the full face twice daily for 12 weeks. The study then assessed Scar′s improvement at each visit using an Investigator Global Assessment (IGA), a Goodman grade, clinical photography and patient self-assessment.


The study observed:


  • Eleven subjects completed the trial.
  • An improvement in mean IGA scores from 3.36 (SEM = 0.15) to 2.18 (SEM = 0.33) compared to baseline.
  • Reduction in mean Goodman grade from 2.73 (SEM = 0.19) to 2.55 (SEM = 0.21).
  • Of the 11 pairs of before and after photographs, a blind investigator correctly chose 9 as the post-treatment image.
  • Eighty-one percent reported a "good" to "excellent" improvement in their scars compared to the baseline on self-assessment.


This study shows that topical EGF improves the appearance of atrophic acne scars in the skin of color. Larger studies should be conducted to characterize improvement better.


Source: Stoddard MA, Herrmann J, Moy L, et al. Improvement of atrophic acne scars in skin of color using topical synthetic epidermal growth factor (EGF) serum: a pilot study. J Drugs Dermatol. 2017;16(4):322-6. 

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