Acne treatment Acne treatment

Antibacterials for Acne

Antibacterials for Acne Antibacterials for Acne

Acne is a common skin condition that occurs as skin cells combine with sebum oil to form plugs in the hair follicles found on your skin. When bacteria known as Propinoibacterium acnes, or P. acnes, are able to multiply behind these plugs, more severe forms of inflammatory acne can develop. To fight this bacteria off, there are several over-the-counter and prescription antibacterials available on the market.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most commonly used over-the-counter antibacterials for acne. Benzoyl peroxide works by penetrating the acne lesion and exposing higher levels of oxygen to the P. acnes bacteria. Because the bacteria does not do well with oxygen, benzoyl peroxide effectively reduces the levels of P. acnes in the acne-affected area, resulting in less inflammation and infection.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a natural alternative to benzyol peroxide. It has natural antibacterial properties that can kill off P. acnes bacteria when applied to acne lesions. According to the Mayo Clinic, a 5 percent solution of tea tree oil is just as effective as a 5 percent solution of benzoyl peroxide. However, the tea tree oil solution takes longer to work than benzoyl peroxide.

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid also works as a antibacterial agent. Azelaic acid naturally occurs on the skin, but can also be derived for topical applications for acne. Not only does azelaic acid reduce P. acnes populations on the affected area, the product also helps reduce inflammation and correct abnormal skin cell shedding which can contribute to acne formation, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).


Antibiotics are a prescription form of antibacterial medication that are typically reserved for the most severe cases of inflammatory acne. Antibiotics can be used topically or orally, and include medications such as erythromycin, clindamycin and tetracycline. Although effective at killing bacteria, overuse or misuse of antibiotics can lead to bacterial resistance by the P. acnes bacteria. To reduce the possibilities of resistance, antibiotics are often combined with other antibacterials, such as benzoyl peroxide, to reduce the risks of resistance, according to the AAD.

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