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5 Things You Need to Know About Oral Antibiotics for Acne

5 Things You Need to Know About Oral Antibiotics for Acne 5 Things You Need to Know About Oral Antibiotics for Acne

1. Attack Acne-causing Bacteria

Oral antibiotics treat moderate to severe cases of acne that don't respond to topical treatment. These drugs attack the bacteria that cause the inflammation. There are two major categories of antibiotics used to treat acne--erythromycin and antibiotics from the tetracycline family.

2. Erythromycin Is a Common Choice

Erythromycin is one of the oral antibiotics used to treat acne. It is available under a number of brand names, including Ery-Tab and Theramycin-Z. One of the advantages of erythromycin is that it is effective, although it may take a few or even up to six weeks for results. It is also very inexpensive. One of the disadvantages is that it can cause stomach upset. For this reason, doctors generally recommend that you take erythromycin 1/2 hour before or two hours after a meal. There is also a risk of heart disease associated with erythromycin when taken with certain other medications like antifungals. For this reason, it's really important to talk to a doctor about any other medications you might be taking. Don't forget to mention any over the counter medications or supplements you might be taking too.

3. Tetracycline Is Most Widely Prescribed

Tetracycline is the most widely prescribed medication for treating acne. It can lessen inflammation and is especially helpful for people who have papules--pimples that are pink, firm and tender when touched, and pustules--those little pimples with a red base and a yellow or white center. There are two synthetic tetracycline derivatives--doxycycline and minocycline--commonly used to treat acne. Both are very effective in treating acne and doctors often prescribe them for people whose acne doesn't respond to plain tetracycline.

4. A Cup of Yogurt a Day Keeps Yeast Infections Away

Unfortunately, these antibiotics have some side effects. When you take tetracycline, you are more sensitive to the sun and are prone to vaginal yeast infections. Eating a cup of yogurt every day replaces the good bacteria that the antibiotic kills and helps to prevent these infections. Minocycline can cause skin discoloration in some patients. When taking antibiotics, it is always important to take all of the prescribed medication and not to skip doses. If you do miss a pill, take it as soon as you remember.

5. When Other Antibiotics Fail

There are two other antibiotics sometimes prescribed to treat acne. Doctors don't use clindamycin as commonly as other antibiotics because it often causes diarrhea. Cotrimoxazole, another oral antibiotic, is for people who don't see an improvement with tetracycline or other antibiotics. Doctors usually follow a specific path when prescribing antibiotics--beginning with tetracycline and moving to more broad-spectrum antibiotics--those that fight more types of bacteria. Doing this helps to ensure that people don't build up a resistance to antibiotics that they might need if they get a serious infection.

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