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Randomised controlled trial of topical kanuka honey for the treatment of acne
  1. Alex Semprini1,
  2. Irene Braithwaite1,
  3. Andrew Corin2,
  4. Davitt Sheahan3,
  5. Christopher Tofield4,
  6. Colin Helm2,
  7. Barney Montgomery5,
  8. James Fingleton1,
  9. Mark Weatherall6,
  10. Richard Beasley1
    1. 1Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand
    2. 2Clinical Horizons, Tauranga, New Zealand
    3. 3Papamoa Pines Medical Centre, Tauranga, New Zealand
    4. 4Cameron Medical Clinic, Tauranga, New Zealand
    5. 5Optimal Clinical Trials, Auckland, New Zealand
    6. 6University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
    1. Correspondence to Dr Alex Semprini; Alex.Semprini{at}


    Objective To investigate the efficacy of Honevo, a topical 90% medical-grade kanuka honey, and 10% glycerine (honey product) as a treatment for facial acne.

    Design Randomised controlled trial with single blind assessment of primary outcome variable.

    Setting Outpatient primary care from 3 New Zealand localities.

    Participants Of 136 participants aged between 16 and 40 years with a diagnosis of acne and baseline Investigator's Global Assessment (IGA) for acne score of ≥2.68, participants were randomised to each treatment arm.

    Interventions All participants applied Protex, a triclocarban-based antibacterial soap twice daily for 12 weeks. Participants randomised to the honey product treatment arm applied this directly after washing off the antibacterial soap, twice daily for 12 weeks.

    Outcome measures The primary outcome was ≥2 point decrease in IGA score from baseline at 12 weeks. Secondary outcomes included mean lesion counts and changes in subject-rated acne improvement and severity at weeks 4 and 12, and withdrawals for worsening acne.

    Results 4/53 (7.6%) participants in the honey product group and 1/53 (1.9%) of participants in the control group had a ≥ 2 improvement in IGA score at week 12, compared with baseline, OR (95% CI) for improvement 4.2 (0.5 to 39.3), p=0.17. There were 15 and 14 participants who withdrew from the honey product group and control group, respectively.

    Conclusions This randomised controlled trial did not find evidence that addition of medical-grade kanuka honey in combination with 10% glycerine to standard antibacterial soap treatment is more effective than the use of antibacterial soap alone in the treatment of acne.

    Trial registration number ACTRN12614000003673; Results.

    • Randomised controlled trial
    • Kanuka honey

    This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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