Why Antibiotics are not the best treatment for Acne?

Hi Everyone,
I have been wanting to write this post for a very long time regarding antibiotic treatment for acne.I have discussed other approaches on how to treat acne here.Today in this post I will discuss both topical and oral form of antibiotics,my experience with this kind of acne treatment and its effectiveness against treating acne.Read along to find out more about it.

How does Antibiotics work on acne?

Antibiotics kill and decrease acne-causing bacteria and thereby treating inflamed acne.

What are the forms of Antibiotic treatment for acne?

With respect to treating acne using antibiotics,they are treated using:

1)Oral antibiotics which are consumed orally in the form pills or tablets for few weeks.
Example: Minocyline, Tetracylcine,Doxycline,Erythromycin,Clindamycin,Azithromycin etc.

2)Topical antibiotics which are applied topically on acne.
Example: Clindamycin,Metrogyl,T-Bact,Dapzone,Nadofloxacin etc

What are the side effects of Oral Antibiotics?

The side effects of Oral Antibiotics are:
1)Increased sensitivity to sun or Photo-sensitivity.
2)Teeth Discolouration.
5)Dizziness or Vertigo.
6)Irregular menstrual cycle and Vaginal Infections in Women.
7)Decreases effectiveness of Birth Control pills.
8)Decreases immunity levels in the body.
9)Vitamin B Deficiency.
10)Gastro-intestinal infections.

What are the side effects of Topical Antibiotics?

Unlike Oral Antibiotics,Topical Antibiotics do not come with serious side effects.You might experience the following side effects with Topical Antibiotics:
2)Burning Sensation or Skin Irritation or Rashes.
3)Dryness or Flakiness or Peeling.

Who should not undergo antibiotic treatment for acne?

Antibiotic treatment for acne is not advisable for children under 12 years and pregnant/nursing women.

What are advantages of the Antibiotic treatment for acne?

There are a few advantages of antibiotic treatment for acne:
1)Topical antibiotics come with lesser side effects when compared to Oral antibiotics.
2)As long one is under antibiotic treatment,it effectively treats and kills acne causing bacteria and controls breakouts.
3)It is inexpensive form of treatment when compared to Isotretinoin etc.
4)The improvement/results of treatment can be seen in a very short span of time.

What are disadvantages of the Antibiotic treatment for acne?

There are many disadvantages of using antibiotic treatment for acne:
1)It only kills and decrease acne-causing bacteria but fails to prevent further breakouts.
2)It is only effective in treating acne as far as one is under is antibiotic treatment.
3)It does not unclog pores or shrink large pores.
4)Consuming oral antibiotics for prolonged duration is not advisable and dangerous.
5)Antibiotics are not most effective treatment for acne because after a while the bacteria develops resistance to the medication and no longer kills or controls acne causing bacteria.
6)Oral antibiotics comes with its own side effects.
7)Oral antibiotics are not the most effective treatment for severe acne.It is often prescribed with Isotretinoin/Sotret/Accutane or topical acne treatments like retiniods,benzoyl peroxide,glycolic acid,salicylic acid etc.
8)Oral antibiotics can increase sensitivity to sun also known as photo-sensitivity.
9)One of the side effects of antibiotics commonly seen in women is vaginal yeast infections.
10)Oral antibiotics interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills.

My Experience with Antibiotic Treatment for Acne:

Oral Antibiotics:

On my first dermatologist visit I was given oral antibiotic Minoz(Minocycline) 50mg for almost 2 months.Antibiotics are generally given in pulse method.Initially it is 3 tablets a week and continued for 3-4 weeks depending on severity of acne and gradually reduced to 3 tablets in 2 weeks.Normally 3 months is the maximum period for using oral antibiotics as it is not advisable to consume oral antibiotics for a long period.Over the years whenever acne increased I went to other doctor,I was given Doxycline 50mg for a shorter peroid.Last year again I was prescribed Azithromycin 100mg for 3 weeks.As you can see,I was under antibiotic treatment for acne on several occasions.Coming to the real question did those antibiotics help my acne?Well Yes acne definitely cleared up and I was happy.Only to know later that my happiness was short-lived!As far as I was under antibiotics,acne cleared up like magic.But once you are off antibiotics,acne comes back-sometimes worse than ever.Then comes the side effects-As far as I was under antibiotics I experienced dizziness,diarrhoea (stomach infection),head ache and irregular menstrual cycle. Long term consumption of antibiotics makes one easily susceptible to infections as it only kills acne causing bacteria but the good bacteria present in your body to aid normal bodily functions.

Topical Antibiotics:

Coming topical antibiotics I have used quite a lot ointments like Clindamycin (Clindac, Erytop), Erythromycin Gel,Metrogyl gel etc.By now I am resistant to all topical antibiotics ointments and none of them work on my acne.One point of time or other I have used them,initially it will  treat acne but after a while it just stops working on acne.Reason being bacteria continue to mutate and develop resistance to antibiotics after a while.
Since I have been on both topical and oral antibiotics for a very very long time,I can honestly say from my experiences that antibiotics are the weakest form of treatment for acne.The treatment effect is temporary and there is no long term benefits for acne prone skin.Unlike Alpha-hydroxy/Beta-Hydroxy acids(AHA’s/BHA’s) or Retinoids:
  • Antibiotics do not unclog pores.
  • Antibiotics do not decrease sebum production.
  • Antibiotics cannot kill stubborn and resistant bacteria.
  • Antibiotics though can reduce inflammatory acne,it cannot treat blackheads or cystic acne.
  • Antibiotics do not treat acne blemishes and acne scars.
  • After discontinuing Antibiotics,acne will come back.
  • Only Antibiotics is not sufficient treatment for acne,it is often combined with Isotretinon or Retinoids or AHA/BHA’s.
  • Antibiotics might be enough for mild acne but definitely not sufficient for moderate-severe acne.
  • Antibiotics comes with own side effects,some risky ones as mentioned above.
  • Antibiotics is not effective treatment option for every one as day by day more and more people are developing resistance to the bacteria.
Hence making antibiotics ineffective treatment for acne and definitely not the best treatment for acne.`

Disclaimer:Antibiotics should be strictly taken only under medical supervision.Please do not use antibiotic medications without consulting your doctor.

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