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The review, by experts at the University of Nottingham, suggests that there is little evidence to show which over-the-counter or prescription treatments work best.
And the authors warned that using some treatments over a long period of time may contribute to resistance to antibiotics.
Published on The Lancet's website, the study claims treatments should be subjected to more in-depth testing and that more effective non-antibiotic remedies should be developed.
Hywel Williams, professor of dermato-epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, said: "Almost half of recently published acne trials contain serious flaws that could be overcome by better reporting.
"This lack of well-conducted research to test over-the-counter and prescription therapies is putting patients at risk of ineffective treatment and makes treatment decisions for patients and doctors very difficult."
Professor Williams added that acne treatment guidelines are largely "based on the opinion of experts" and lack any real evidence to support their use.
Though the exact cause of acne is still unknown, family history, diet and skin hygiene have all been implicated in previous research.
One recent study suggested that the absence of acne in people from Papua New Guinea and Paraguay may indicate that the Western diet is to blame.
However, the theory is as yet unproven.
Are you an acne sufferer? Have you found diet and lifestyle made a difference or have prescription treatments worked for you? Let us know below...