A MAJOR new study at Poole Hospital could help to improve the treatment of acne for millions of women.

It comes as part of Poole Hospital's participation in the £1.7m Spironolactone for Adult Female Acne (SAFA) study happening in six centres across the UK.

It is believed that 95 per cent of the population in the UK has had acne to some degree in their lives, with 20 per cent classed as moderate to severe cases.

The condition causes spots, oily skin and sometimes scarring, usually on the face, back or chest.

Funded by the National Institute for Health Research and led by the Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, the major research study claims to be the first that looks into improving acne treatment for females.

However, there is anecdotal evidence suggesting spironolactone can have beneficial effects on acne by helping to balance the hormones that trigger the problem.

Sophie Crawford, 22, has just finished taking part in the study, having taken tablets for the past six months, which was either spironolactone – a drug normally used to treat high blood pressure and other conditions – or a placebo tablet.

“When I heard about the study, I jumped at the chance,” said outpatients helpdesk co-ordinator Sophie, who works at Poole Hospital.

She added: “I’ve had acne since childhood – it has definitely had an effect on my confidence. Even now, I don’t like to go out without make-up on, or go to certain things because I feel people might be looking at me.

“If, like me, you have been through the treatment options and haven’t found anything that has helped you in the longer term, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting involved in this trial.”

Dr Suzannah August is the clinical lead for the study work taking place at Poole Hospital.

She said: “Acne is a condition which has a big impact on people with it, affecting self-confidence and people’s lives in so many ways. I see women who don’t want to leave the house – the impact on quality of life cannot be overstated.

“Traditionally, we’d use topical creams or antibiotics to treat the condition, but spironolactone works in a very different way. It’s thought that spironolactone helps acne because it balances the hormones that drive the condition in women.

Suzannah added: “If the SAFA study shows the treatment to be effective, it will have a massive effect on our ability to manage many cases of acne in women. This is a really important study and it could change the way we treat acne in women.”