Acne treatment Acne treatment

Topical Acne Antibiotics

Topical Acne Antibiotics Topical Acne Antibiotics


Acne plagues almost nine out of 10 teenagers at any given time. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne affects 85 percent or more of teens along with a smaller percentage of adults, making it the most common skin condition in the United States. Most pimples will clear if you follow good skin care rules and use effective over-the-counter products, but some cases of acne need extra help. In those cases, dermatologists often recommend topical acne antibiotics. Several topical antibiotics are available to treat acne, according to the AAD.


Although physicians aren't certain what causes acne, they do know that hormones play a major role in pimple development, according to the Cleveland Clinic. When the body produces hormones called androgens, those androgens can overstimulate the skin to produce too much oil.
The oil combines with sloughed-off skin cells and clogs your pores, and bacteria begins to grow inside those oily, blocked pores. If your acne is severe enough, the bacterial infection can cause swollen cysts and pain.


Clindamycin, a semi-synthetic antibiotic, probably is the most-prescribed topical antibiotic for acne, and it has a long track record in fighting pimples. The medication, which kills bacteria and reduces inflammation, is safe and well-tolerated by patients, according to the AAD. Potential side effects include skin dryness and irritation.


Erythromycin, another commonly prescribed topical antibiotic for acne, works well against many different types of bacteria, including Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria implicated in acne, according to the AAD. Erythromycin often is combined with acne mainstay treatment benzoyl peroxide, which also helps treat bacterial infection. Erythromycin also can cause skin irritation and redness, especially in people who have just started using it.

Sodium Sulfacetamide

Sodium sulfacetamide, a commonly prescribed topical acne antibiotic, fights infection and works to unclog pores, according to the AAD. Dermatologists often prescribe it to treat inflammatory acne, a particularly severe and painful form of the disease. Sodium sulfacetamide preparations often include sulfur, which some patients do not like because of its distinctive odor and gritty texture. However, newer product formulations have reduced these problems.


Topical acne antibiotics can be an effective treatment for moderate to severe acne. But antibiotics mainly treat bacterial infection in acne; you may need to combine antibiotic therapy with another treatment that can help unclog pores or slow down oil production in your skin. In addition, the AAD warns that antibiotic resistance is becoming a major problem in acne. If your dermatologist prescribes topical acne antibiotics, you must use them as prescribed or risk your acne becoming resistant to the treatment.

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