The Long-Awaited Acne Topical Winlevi Can Help Clear Your Hormonal Acne

The wait is over: Winlevi, the groundbreaking new topical cream for treating hormonal acne, is finally available. The prescription treatment, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in patients 12 years and older last summer, is the first of its kind for clearing stubborn hormonal breakouts.

“It’s exciting, overdue, and innovative; we haven’t had a really new molecule for acne in a really long time,” says Birmingham-based board-certified dermatologist Corey L. Hartman, M.D., of the new topical cream. 

How does Winlevi work? 

The twice-a-day formula, otherwise known as Clascoterone Cream 1% for the drug’s active ingredient, targets the androgen receptors in the skin, resulting in less sebum production and oil buildup. Androgens — hormones that up inflammation and sebum production — are a strong force behind bouts of hormonal acne, while clascoterone helps to limit their effects near breakouts and the surrounding tissue. 

“When you reduce the sebum level on the face, you reduce the chance to trap dirt that can cause inflammations and trigger more acne,” says cosmetic chemist Ginger King. “Winlevi does not work on killing [acne] like other over-the-counter products with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, but is a more preventive measure with specific hormonal triggered acne.”

Who can use Winlevi?

The cream can be used for all skin types and genders and is a handy alternate to oral medication like spironolactone, which is reserved for those assigned female at birth due to their specific androgen production. “The topical is ideal for people who don’t want to be on a pill, who have not had total success with the pill, or patients who have side effects from taking Spironolactone,” says Dr. Hartman, noting that it could even be helpful for patients who’ve gone through multiple bouts of Accutane, an acne-targeting oral medication, and aren’t seeing results due to contributing hormonal breakouts.

What are the side effects of Winlevi? 

In clinical trials conducted by Cassiopea, the pharmaceutical company behind the drug, demonstrated a reduction in acne lesions and was well-tolerated when applied to the skin twice a day. The most common side effect, which occurred in 7 to 12 percent of patients, was mild erythema or temporary reddening of the skin. (Other potential side effects include burning, itching, and peeling.) And after a longer-than-expected waiting period, the dermatology community is looking forward to having Winlevi in their arsenal. 

Dr. Hartman notes that while it doesn’t clash directly with other specific skincare products or ingredients you might have in your routine, you can do away with any other specifically acne-targeting treatments you might be using while on Winlevi.

“We are always excited when we expand the armamentarium of available products,” says Dr. Hartman. I’m sure somebody identified a need, and got to work to formulate this novel topical that can deliver.”


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