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J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2013 Nov;27(11):1329-35. doi: 10.1111/jdv.12116. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

Metformin in dermatology: an overview.

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Department of Dermatology, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon.


For several decades, metformin has been used as an oral hypoglycaemic agent, where it is the first line of treatment in overweight and obese type 2 diabetic patients. This is because it decreases the hepatic glucose output and acts as an insulin sensitizer by increasing the glucose utilization by muscles and adipocytes. As a result of the improvement in glycaemic control, serum insulin concentrations decline slightly, thus improving hyperinsulinaemia and its signs. In addition, it has been shown that metformin has platelet anti-aggregating and antioxidant effects. These pharmacological properties have allowed metformin to be effective in non-diabetic situations including cutaneous conditions. This is an evidence-based review on the use of metformin in the treatment of skin disorders such as hirsutism, acne, hidradenitis suppurativa, acanthosis nigricans, psoriasis, skin cancer, among others. In addition, cutaneous side-effects such as leukocytoclastic vasculitis, bullous pemphigoid, psoriasiform drug eruption, lichen planus and acute alopecia have been associated with metformin use and are discussed in the article.

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