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Side Effects of Acne Antibiotics

Side Effects of Acne Antibiotics Side Effects of Acne Antibiotics

When you experience a serious case of inflammatory acne (such as acne cysts or nodules), one common course of treatment is antibiotics, such as erythromycin, clindamycin and tetracycline. Antibiotics are used to target and kill a type of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). P. acnes is believed to be a major contributing factor in acne inflammation and infection. When using antibiotics for acne, it's important to understand the possible side effects to prevent complications.

Allergic Reaction

One of the most dangerous side effects of using antibiotics for acne is the chance of an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to the medication include hives, difficulty breathing, rash, itching, and swelling of the face, mouth and tongue. If medical attention is not sought out immediately, serious complications, including death, can occur from a severe allergic reaction.


Bacterial resistance is another side effect that can occur during antibiotic treatment. Resistance occurs when the P. acnes bacteria have developed immunity to the antibiotic being used for treatment, making it no longer effective in killing the bacteria. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, antibiotics are often paired with other antimicrobials, such as benzoyl peroxide, to prevent this from occurring.

Digestive Complications

Acne antibiotics may also cause digestive complications ranging from mild side effects such as loss of appetite, diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea, to severe side effects such as vomiting, bloody stool and severe stomach pains.

Other Possible Effects

The use of antibiotics for acne may also cause other serious side effects that require immediate medical attention. These side effects include irregular heart beat, hearing loss, blistered skin, yellowing of the eyes and skin, and muscle weakness.

Pregnancy Considerations

If you are pregnant, it's important to inform your doctor so that you are not prescribed an antibiotic that could cause possible birth defects, such as the acne antibiotic tetracycline. Tetracycline may make birth control less effective, so talk to your doctor about using other forms of birth control (such as condoms) while undergoing tetracycline treatment. Tetracycline is also passed on through breast milk, which can negatively affect bone and tooth development in babies.

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