Acne treatment Acne treatment

Bactrim for Acne


Most people can manage mild or moderate acne with over-the-counter products. But if your acne fails to respond to benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, two well-known medications for pimples, you may need to try a prescription antibiotic. Some dermatologists prescribe Bactrim, a combination of two antibiotics, to treat bad acne.


Everyone has tiny hair follicles, or openings, in their skin, out of which hair grows and skin oil flows. When these hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells combined with excess oil, you wind up with acne, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you don't have a bacterial infection associated with your acne, you'll get only whiteheads and blackheads, along with tiny bumps on the skin. But if infection sets in, it will inflame the bumps and cause swollen pimples to appear.


The antibiotic Bactrim treats the bacterial infection that causes inflammation and infection in acne. The medication, which also treats urinary tract infections and ear infections, combines two antibiotics, sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim, and it comes either as a liquid or in tablet form. If your physician prescribes Bactrim for your acne, you should take it exactly as prescribed, and you shouldn't stop taking it if your acne clears up before your prescription runs out.

Side Effects

Some antibiotics, including sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim, occasionally cause strong allergic reactions. If you experience hives, swelling of your face or tongue or difficulty breathing while taking Bactrim, seek emergency medical help. Other rare but potentially serious side effects of Bactrim include fever and sore throat combined with a blistering skin rash, watery or bloody diarrhea, irritability or hallucinations and coughing or shortness of breath. If any of these occurs, call your doctor immediately.


Published medical research indicates the combination of sulphamethoxazole and trimethoprim can treat acne successfully. In a 1978 study titled, "A Clinical and Bacteriological Evaluation of the Effect of Sulphamethoxazole-Trimethoprim in Acne Vulgaris, Resistant to Prior Therapy with Tetracyclines," which was published in the journal Dermatologica, clinicians treated 42 patients whose acne had become resistant to tetracycline, another type of antibiotic. A total of 33 patients had either excellent results or complete remission of their acne at the end of treatment.


Since dermatologists first began using antibiotics to treat acne, some strains of acne-causing bacteria have developed resistance to the drugs. To prevent this problem, your physician may recommend you use benzoyl peroxide to treat your acne while you're taking Bactrim, since studies have found that pairing benzoyl peroxide with antibiotics can reduce the chances of your acne becoming resistant to antibiotic treatment. In addition, oral antibiotics such as Bactrim treat only the bacterial infection that's present in acne, which doesn't address the problems of excess oil and clogged pores. Your dermatologist may recommend additional treatments to address those problems.

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