Acne treatment Acne treatment

Antiobiotics for Acne

Antiobiotics for Acne


Acne, the most common skin condition in the United States, can cause temporary embarrassment and sometimes leads to permanent scars. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), most mild cases of acne clear up with careful skin care, but in some cases, intervention from a physician may be necessary. Physicians often prescribe either oral or topical antibiotics as one method to treat acne.


Acne stems from four interrelated factors: too much oil production in the skin's sebaceous glands, clogged pores that result from that excess oil, infection with the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes and inflammation due to the other three factors. Prescription antibiotics for acne only target the acne-causing bacteria, but indirectly help resolve clogged pores and inflammation.


For patients with stubborn acne, dermatologists often prescribe oral antibiotics, including erythromycin and tetracycline, according to the AAD. Treatment usually begins with a fairly high dose, which is reduced as the antibiotic takes effect and the acne begins to clear up. Two derivatives of tetracycline, doxycycline and minocycline, have proven particularly effective in treating acne, the AAD says. Minocycline often works in cases of acne that haven't responded to other oral antibiotics.

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Dermatologists also can prescribe topical antibiotics for acne, which are antibiotic creams or ointments applied directly to the skin. Topical antibiotics include clindamycin, sodium sulfacetamide and erythromycin. All three work by killing acne-causing bacteria, reducing inflammation, and opening pores, according to the AAD. Potential side effects of all three medications include skin dryness, reddening, and irritation.


In many cases, physicians will prescribe oral or topical antibiotics in combination with other acne therapies in order to achieve the best results, according to the AAD. For example, topical erythromycin often is combined with prescription strength benzoyl peroxide in order to provide the benefits of two anti-bacterial agents. And in severe cases of acne, treatment with oral antibiotics might be combined with a physical procedure, such as laser treatment, that improves inflammation and reduces oil production in the sebaceous glands.


Treatment with antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance in the targeted organism, and the bacteria that causes acne is no exception, according to the Mayo Clinic. Dermatologists at that respected medical center warn that patients must use their antibiotics exactly as directed, or the medication could lose its effectiveness. Medicines that combine antibiotics with another type of antibacterial agent, especially those that include benzoyl peroxide, are less likely to lead to drug resistance, the Mayo Clinic reports.

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