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Woman Applying A Topical Antibiotic As An Acne Treatment. | Center For Surgical Dermatology

When Should You Consider Antibiotics for Acne?

Did you know that acne is the number one reason why people visit a dermatologist? Though this may seem like a minor skin issue to some, acne plagues millions of people on an annual basis in the United States, often causing severe self-esteem issues. 

Furthermore, out of those who struggle with frequent acne breakouts, many battle against more troublesome acne, like painful cysts and deep nodules, that do not respond to over-the-counter acne medications and treatments. 

If this is the case for you, it might be time to consider antibiotics for acne. Here’s our quick guide to what this acne treatment is, how it works, and when you should visit a dermatologist to explore this acne treatment option. 


Antibiotics for Acne: What You Should Know

How do antibiotics treat acne? 

To better understand how antibiotics treat acne, it is important to cover what acne is actually caused by. Generally, it is caused by one or a combination of the following: 

  • Excess sebum production (aka the skin’s natural oil)
  • Bacteria (more specifically, Propionibacterium Acnes bacteria)
  • Clogged pores (caused by abnormal exfoliation of the skin)
  • Inflammation 

Antibiotics work to treat and improve acne by killing off bacteria in and around the follicle. Additionally, antibiotics reduce redness and inflammation, further improving this problematic skin condition. 


What are the most common antibiotics for acne? 

There are two categories of antibiotics for acne that we prescribe at the Center for Surgical Dermatology: topical antibiotics and oral antibiotics

Regarding oral antibiotics, your dermatologist may recommend a Tetracycline (Minocycline, Doxycycline, or the newer Sarecycline), or Bactrim. The most common topical antibiotic for acne is Clindamycin. 

Depending on the severity of your acne, your dermatologist may recommend a topical antibiotic first to see how your skin responds. If that does not produce optimal results, they may recommend a different acne treatment plan that includes a combination of an oral antibiotic and topical medication, such as clindamycin, benzoyl peroxide or a retinoid. 


When should you consider antibiotics for acne? 

If you have a pimple here or a whitehead there, or a few blackheads dotting your nose, it is important to know that we do not recommend antibiotics as a treatment for this type of acne. 

Though these spots may be bothersome, it is likely that OTC acne treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid washes and creams, work for milder acne. 

Antibiotics are generally reserved for individuals with moderate to severe acne, including inflammatory acne and cystic acne. 

Additionally, antibiotics may be considered when other prescription-based acne treatments, including retinoids, have not been effective in improving your acne. 

If you have more severe cystic or nodular acne, we may recommend you try Isotretinoin, which is more commonly known as Accutane. You can learn more about that acne treatment here


What are the downsides of antibiotics for acne? 

Though antibiotics for acne can achieve great results, it is important to consider the downsides of using this form of acne treatment. One downside in particular is antibiotic resistance.

Though this is unlikely, as our board-certified dermatologists use specific acne treatment strategies to reduce the chances of this happening, researchers are still seeing a resistance of the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes against the oral antibiotics used. 

At the Center for Surgical Dermatology, we address this by using a combination of treatment methods and recommend our patients to use as little antibiotics as possible. For example, Dr. Lingam will recommend a combination of topical antibiotics, like Clindamycin, and Minocycline with benzoyl peroxide to help reduce the likelihood of developing antibiotic resistance. 

Other downsides to consider are the potential side effects, which include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, photosensitivity, and constipation. These are unlikely to occur, however, due to the safety of antibiotics for acne and our providers’ care and involvement when creating your personalized treatment plans. 


Schedule Your Acne Treatment in Westerville, Ohio

If you are struggling with moderate to severe acne and are ready to consider antibiotics as a treatment option, schedule a skin consultation with the experienced dermatologists at the Center for Surgical Dermatology. 

With the right treatment plan, clear skin is possible. Give us a call today at (614) 847-4100 or request an appointment through our online form


Professional Acne Treatment at the Center for Surgical Dermatology 

Center of Surgical Dermatology is the largest medical and surgical skin treatment and wellness facility in Central Ohio. Since 2007, our board-certified dermatologists and experienced skin care specialists have provided patients with personalized acne treatment they can trust in an environment second to none. Learn more about our state-of-the-art Dermatology Center before booking your appointment today.

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