Pros Cons And When They’re Considered
Casey Gallagher, MD, is board-certified in dermatology and works as a practicing dermatologist and clinical professor.
Since acne is, in part, caused by bacteria, topical antibiotics are one way to treat acne. Topical antibiotics are typically used mild to moderately severe inflammatory acne.
Medications like clindamycin and erythromycin are most commonly used for this purpose. Topical tetracycline is another option, but it’s prescribed less often because it has the tendency to turn the skin yellow. These come in a variety of forms, including lotions, gels, pads , and toner-like solutions.
How Long Does It Take To See Results
Acne is known to be difficult to treat, and each person will respond differently it can take 4 to 8 weeks to begin seeing the results of prescription acne treatments.
Acne therapy typically involves adjusting the medication type and dose, and close monitoring to achieve best results. It is also important to follow your care providers instructions fully to gain the most from your medication.
How Does Clindamycin For Acne Work
Clindamycin is an antibiotic that kills certain types of bacteria or stops them from growing.
Doctors may prescribe this to kill Propionibacterium acnes bacteria that can lead to pimples. While P. acnes bacteria naturally live on the skin, they can invade pores and cause inflammation that leads to acne.
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- topical antibiotics, such as erythromycin or clindamycin
- topical retinoids, such as adapalene or tretinoin
Your doctor may recommend using benzoyl peroxide and a topical antibiotic, or a topical retinoid and a topical antibiotic. There are several options of combinations, and they depend upon what acne types you have.
Several studies exist to support these combinations or the use of topical clindamycin.
Topical 1 percent clindamycin was shown to reduce acne in people with moderate inflammatory acne after 8 weeks of twice daily treatment, according to a 2013 study .
Another 2019 study found that applying a combination of clindamycin and tretinoin for 12 weeks helped reduce the appearance of acne with minimal side effects.
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Comparing Topical And Oral Adult Acne Medications:
Oral Adult Acne medications are also available and maybe more known than topical Adult Acne cream products. But people will soon develop resistance to these antibiotic medications and this product will lessen its effectiveness. This is why people are not told to use oral medications longer than half a year. Due to this reason topical Adult Acne creams are prescribed for chronic acne.
What action you should take if you are a chronic Adult Acne sufferer? You cannot use oral antibiotics as a stand-alone medication far longer than six months but you can use a topical Adult Acne cream over six months. Number of people looks for topical antibiotics Adult Acne cream because they will be able to avoid the dangers related with oral antibiotics. Its easy to use and its easily absorbed by the skin.
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Potential Side Effects Of Antibiotics
Nausea, diarrhoea and thrush may affect a small number of people taking oral antibiotics.
In some cases, antibiotics used to treat acne may cause headaches. If you think any medications are causing headaches, particularly if this happens in the morning, is not quickly relieved with paracetamol and/or associated with blurring of vision or neck stiffness, you should stop the medication and see your doctor.
Antibiotics can sometimes cause allergic reactions. This is more common with minocycline, rare with doxycycline and uncommon with antibiotic gels and lotions.
Anyone with warning signs or symptoms of allergic reactions, including an unexplained fever, sore throat, swollen neck glands or rash should stop the medication and visit the doctor.
Other symptoms can include joint pain and swelling, nausea, abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, headache and shortness of breath.
Occasionally fever, rash, joint swelling and pain, skin ulcers and generally feeling unwell due to minocycline allergy can occur several years after first starting therapy. However, keep in mind these are rare side effects.
As with all antibiotics, there is concern that if they are over-used or inappropriately used, strains of the acne bacteria will become resistant to antibiotics, making the medications ineffective.
Taking antibiotics for the full course as prescribed and applying antibiotic creams and gels as directed will reduce this risk.
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What Is The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of A Cystic Pimple
There is no fast way to get rid of an acne nodule or cyst. Spot treatment with store-bought skincare products wont work. Squeezing or cutting away the nodule has a high probability of leaving a scar, so you should not play with acne nodules or cysts. The only way to treat deep acne nodules is through a combination of prescription medications, but it may take a few days to see results.
Physical Removal And Surgery
Dermabrasion and laser light therapy, while commonly used for mild cases of acne, are not considered successful treatments for cystic acne. Because of the risk of acne scars, many dermatologists reserve surgical treatment only for painful nodules or cysts. In those cases, the nodules will either be removed or drained .
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How Do I Find The Good Stuff
Antibacterial medications are by prescription, but you should know your stuff before speaking to your doctor.
You want to be informed and choose your product wisely to make it a one-and-done deal especially with how strong these products are, and the negative side-effects extended use can have. Because these medications alter some good bacteria in addition to bad, some common side-effects although far from universal are upset stomach and digestive issues. You might also experience heightened susceptibility to sunburn.
The Complete Guide To Prescription Acne Medication
Medically reviewed by Patrick Carroll, MD
Dealing with acne can be a stressful, challenging experience. Most people develop acne in their teens, usually due to a combination of excess skin sebum and inflammation of the skin and hair follicles.
While most peoples acne disappears on its own over time, many people experience persistent, problematic acne that can stick around for years at a time. For some of these people, prescription acne medication is the most viable answer.
Some people even develop cystic acne painful, red acne breakouts that are caused by infected and inflamed pores.
There are numerous acne treatments on the market, ranging from over-the-counter creams and facial washes, to powerful prescription medicine aimed at controlling the development of acne at its source.
Most of the time, doctors will suggest prescription acne medication to treat severe or persistent cases of acne, where over-the-counter products like skin creams, facial washes and gels simply arent effective.
Below, weve listed and compared the most widely used prescription acne medicines on the market. Weve also explained the potential benefits and side effects of todays most popular prescription acne medications to help you better understand how each treatment works.
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Before Using Topical Clindamycin
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to clindamycin, lincomycin , or any other medications.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention erythromycin and any other medications that are applied to the skin. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had inflammatory bowel disease or severe diarrhea caused by an antibiotic. Your doctor may tell you not to use topical clindamycin.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had asthma, eczema or allergies.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using topical clindamycin, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using topical clindamycin.
- you should know that abrasive or medicated soaps and skin products that contain alcohol may make the side effects of topical clindamycin worse. Talk to your doctor about the skin care products you plan to use during your treatment with topical clindamycin.
Description Of The Condition
Acne is a multifactorial inflammatory skin disease affecting 70% to 90% of individuals from the age of 12 to 24 years . Although acne is classically a selflimiting disease of adolescence, evidence suggests it is occurring at earlier stages of puberty and is also lasting longer . It is currently considered a chronic disease . Persistent acne beyond teenage years is more common in women than men and may be associated with hormonal imbalances .
Acne is centred around the pilosebaceous unit . Therefore, acne is predominantly located in areas rich in sebaceous follicles, such as the face, back, and chest . It is a polymorphic disease that can present with open and closed comedones , inflammatory lesions , and subsequent atrophic or hypertrophic scars .
Clinical forms of acne, classified by the predominant type of lesions, include comedonal acne, papulopustular acne, and nodular or conglobate acne. For research purposes, lesions may be further categorised into inflamed and noninflamed , and the number of lesions per patient is counted and documented . Many clinical trials also capture global assessments including patient perspectives .
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How Do Oral Antibiotics Treat Acne
Oral antibiotics treat acne from within, rather than topical creams medications on the skin. They work by targeting acne-causing bacteria in and around the follicles to reduce inflammation and decrease sebum production.
More specifically, oral antibiotics help decrease or kill the skin bacteria called propionibacterium acnes . The combination of anti-inflammatory and oil reduction effects of oral antibiotics helps reduce future breakouts and clear up existing acne lesions.
Dont Wait To Treat Acne
You may think of acne as a teenage problem, but its not uncommon for acne to appear around age 9. The earlier it comes, the earlier it may go. However, those who start puberty later may have acne into their 20s.
Acne usually subsides on its own, but treatment is important if your child is bothered by his or her appearance, says Dr. Kassouf. Its also important if youre concerned about long-term effects. Severe acne can leave scars and cause skin discoloration.
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What Exactly Are Antibiotic Creams For Acne
Acne antibiotic creams are medical treatments that are used to treat all sorts of types of acne, but normally from moderate to severe acne.
Antibiotic creams are topical, which means they are applied to the affected skin to treat the various symptoms of acne. The creams contain an antibiotic as the active ingredient, often alongside other ingredients, which work to get rid of acne.
An antibiotic cream treatment is usually recommended if you have inflammatory acne such as angry red spots, bumps or papules as well as whiteheads and blackheads.
How Do I Use Clindamycin For Acne
Your doctor will prescribe topical clindamycin, typically for twice daily application. Different preparations are available.
Some preparations, like topical foams, may contain alcohol and sting or burn when applied to the skin. Youll usually apply the foam to a cleansed face with clean hands to all areas where you experience acne blemishes.
Dont discontinue using clindamycin if you start to see results. Completing a full course of antibiotics ensures that the clindamycin kills off most of the bacteria. Stopping too early can increase your risk for antibiotic resistance.
Doctors usually intend for antibiotics like clindamycin to be used as shorter-term treatments. Youll usually apply them for 3 to 4 months along with benzoyl peroxide, and sometimes a retinoid as well.
After this time, your doctor may recommend that you stop using topical clindamycin but continue using other topical preparations, such as benzoyl peroxide or retinoids.
Most of the time, if you have a reaction to the topical application, you can either apply less of the clindamycin or discontinue its use.
Topical clindamycin is a Pregnancy Category B drug. This means its largely safe for use during pregnancy. Research hasnt revealed its harmful during pregnancy.
But you should always talk to your doctor about all topical and prescription medications youre taking to ensure theyre safe during your pregnancy.
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Should You Use Antibiotics For Acne
Antibiotics are effective against most types of inflammatory acne, such as inflamed pimples, pustules and mild cystic breakouts. However, they are not effective against hormone-related acne.
Oral antibiotics are typically prescribed for moderate-to-severe forms of inflammatory acne. Topical antibiotics are used for milder cases that dont respond to standard topical treatments.
Antibiotics are especially effective when combined with other acne oral medications or topical treatments with different mechanisms of action, including benzoyl peroxide, isotretinoin, spironolactone and oral contraceptives.
One drawback of using an antibiotic to treat acne is antibiotic resistance. Experts have known for some time that when an antibiotic is used for prolonged periods, the bacteria it targets can mutate to become immune to the effects of the antibiotic. This makes the bacteria more aggressive and harder to kill.
Strategies to reduce the risk of bacterial resistance include:
- Using the antibiotic only as prescribed and for the shortest period of time
- Using antibiotics with low rates of resistance
- Combining oral antibiotics with a topical retinoid or benzoyl peroxide to increase efficacy
A List Of 4 Antibiotics Used To Treat Acne Successfully
Struggling with bad skin means suffering more than rigorous skincare routines, or regular dermatologist appointments. It also means emotional and social strife, and that demoralizing feeling of powerlessness when you just cant shake it.
I was eight years old when I first noticed little pustules sprouting in clusters around my face. I was so young and unaware of anything puberty-related that I didnt even take note until my acne was full blown. My mom was especially encouraging, and helped me get my head around what was happeningshe assured me, Youve gotten pimples first, so youll be done with them first. All the other kids will have acne when youre already done with it.
Twenty years later, not a day went by without pimples clustered around my face. I will say that my mom helped me feel better in the moment, but a life of acne slowly wore me down. Antibiotics were what finally did the trick, and Im here to break down how they differ from over-the-counter solutions, and how these treatments are used best.
For moderate to severe acne, or acne with a high risk of scaring, your dermatologist might pull out the big guns and suggest antibiotics used to treat acne. Antibiotic blemish medications are highly effective, but arent without their possible side-effects or long-term implicationsand so, theyre typically used for short periods, and followed-up by other treatments.
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Seeing The Doctor And Initial Acne Assessment
Before anything is prescribed, the patient needs to be assessed to exclude any contributing factors such as drugs which can aggravate acne or underlying hormonal issues such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. A few patients may even be using thick moisturisers, cosmetics or sunscreens that are aggravating the problem.
A Number Of Different Antibiotics Are Available
Antibiotics are used for inflammatory acne small, pink lumps and bumps and pustules on the skins surface.
In more serious cases the lumps are larger, deeper and may appear as nodules and cysts in which case, you may need a different treatment to antibiotics.
Antibiotics have been used in acne management for decades, but with increasing concerns about antibiotic resistance theres a trend to use shorter courses, usually three to six months of treatment.
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Treating Acne With Adapalene
Adapalene is a topical retinoid. It is a cream which is used in the most severe cases of acne. Nobody actually knows how adapalene cream actually works on the skin.
We do, however, know that it causes the skin cells to renew themselves quicker. This helps to keep the skin fresh and will, ultimately, halt the development of acne.
- This is quite a common medication due to how effective it is. When you are dealing with very severe acne, this is likely to be one of the first medications that your doctor prescribes you simply because it is so effective. It is very rare that it will not work on your skin.
- You should not really be using adapalene for long periods of time as it can have quite an impact on the skin. There are some people who use adapalene who find that they have to deal with a burning sensation or dryness and peeling of the skin. This will happen in the first month of usage. If it continues beyond that, you will want to inform your doctor as soon as possible.
How To Use Antibiotics
A doctor will prescribe an antibiotic gel, solution or lotion with instructions on how often to apply it, which parts of the skin it should be put on, and for how long.
Its important to follow these instructions carefully.
Other treatments, like topical benzoyl peroxide or retinoid combinations such as Epiduo, are often prescribed in association with antibiotics to obtain maximum benefit.
In most cases you should apply a thin smear once or twice a day to the entire area affected by acne, not just the spots.
This is because topical antibiotics work to reduce visible pimples but also help prevent new ones. Using them regularly over the entire area will lead to much better control of acne.
Oral antibiotics may work faster and tend to be more effective if large areas of your face and body are affected by acne.
Your doctor and pharmacist will tell you when its best to take tablets or capsules and whether or not they should be taken with food. They can also provide some practical tips on how to remember to take medications.
Antibiotics usually produce some improvement in 6-12 weeks. Talk to your doctor if your acne isnt settling down within this timeframe. If this isnt happening, it may be time to change treatments.
Over the years, antibiotics have saved millions of lives but like all medications, there can be side effects.
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