Acne treatment Acne treatment

Antibacterial Acne Medications

Antibacterial Acne Medications


Antibacterial medications treat acne by working in a combination of ways. Antibacterial medicines are prescribed for mild, moderate and severe cases of acne. Antibacterial medications are sold over the counter, and prescription strength formulas can be prescribed by your dermatologist or family health care practitioner.


Antibacterial medications are typically used to treat mild to moderate acne vulgaris. The American Academy of Dermatology defines acne vulgaris as a common condition, often peaking during puberty, forming blackheads and whiteheads, medically known as comedones. Folliculitis is an inflammation of a hair follicle, which on the face causes pimples, also known as postules and papules. Blackheads and whiteheads are noninflammatory skin lesions, whereas pimples are inflammatory. Both require treatment with either an antibacterial medication or sometimes an antifungal medication, if the pimples are caused by a fungal infection, according to the AAD.


Antibacterial medications include benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid or topical antibiotics, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. These types of medications are generally used if you suffer from mild inflammatory acne. For those who suffer from moderate inflammatory acne, the AAFP recommends treatment remedies consisting of an antibacterial medication as well as an anticomedal agent. If you suffer from moderate inflammatory acne, the AAFP states that your physician will need to decide if a topical medication alone will be enough for your condition, as an oral antibiotic may also need to be considered.


The purpose of antibacterial medications is to reduce inflammation associated with your acne and, in some instances, kill acne-causing bacteria, known as Propionibacterium. Benzoyl peroxide, an antibacterial medication, also contains microbial agents, which help kill yeast as well as bacteria. According to the study Topical Antibacterial Therapy for Acne Vulgaris, which was published in the journal Drugs in 2004, benzoyl peroxide is the best antibacterial medication to use to treat acne.

Time Frame

The AAFP states that patience is required and there is no “quick fix.” You may not see improvement for a minimum of four weeks, according to the AAFP. If no improvement has occurred after eight weeks of use, discontinue using your current treatment method and a different treatment method should be sought after, such as an antibiotic medication or a combination therapy consisting of both an oral and topical medication.


Before treating acne on your own, consider having a health care provider look at your acne and skin. While you may believe your acne is caused by bacteria, it could actually be related to hormones and will not respond to an antibacterial medication. If your antibacterial medication is improving your acne somewhat but not completely, consider alternative options. Your dermatologist may recommend a stronger antibacterial agent or a combination of treatments to treat your acne

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