To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the current best available evidence of the efficacy and safety of acupuncture and related therapies for acne vulgaris.
Eleven English and Chinese databases were searched to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of acne vulgaris compared to pharmacotherapies, no treatment, and sham or placebo acupuncture. Methodological quality was assessed using Cochrane Collaboration's risk of bias tool. Meta-analysis was conducted using RevMan software.
Twelve RCTs were included in the qualitative review and 10 RCTs were included in meta-analysis. Methodological quality of trials was generally low. The chance of achieving ≥30% change in lesion count in the acupuncture group was no different to the pharmacotherapy group (RR: 1.07 [95% CI 0.98, 1.17]; I2 = 8%) and ≥50% change in lesion count in the acupuncture group was not statistically different to the pharmacotherapy group (RR: 1.07 [95% CI 0.98, 1.17]; I2 = 50%).
While caution should be exercised due to quality of the included studies, acupuncture and auricular acupressure were not statistically different to guideline recommended treatments but were with fewer side effects and may be a treatment option. Future trials should address the methodological weaknesses and meet standard reporting requirements stipulated in STRICTA.