Antibiotics for Acne Treatment - Effectivness, Cost & Side Effects

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Antibiotics are another popular prescription treatment for moderate-to-severe acne. There are many antibiotics that you may be prescribed; the most common are Tetracycline, Doxycycline and Erythromycin. Antibiotics are becoming less effective as bacteria develop immunities to antibiotics over time. This kind of treatment is most effective for inflamed ace.

How Antibiotics work to treat Acne

The purpose of using antibiotics to treat acne is to reduce the number of Propionbacterium Acnes (P. Acnes) on the skin. Some acne is predominantly caused by a high number of P. Acnes on the skin.

These bacteria are present on everybody’s skin and, in the correct quantities, they are actually thought to be good for us. They are thought to keep the skin clear of dead skin cells and control the amount of sebum (natural oil) on the surface of the skin. However, if you suffer from acne, P. Acnes can make it worse. The tiny bacteria can become trapped in your pores, which are already full of clogged sebum and dead skin cells. When a bacterium gets into a clogged pore, the pore becomes inflamed. This inflammation causes a blackhead or whitehead to become an inflamed, red swelling. These swellings come in four types: Papules, pustules, nodules and cysts, which are the kind of ‘spots’ you will recognise as acne.

Using antibiotics, therefore, can reduce the chance of P. Acnes entering your clogged pores. This can result in less visible acne and generally improved looking skin.

Can I Use Antibiotics to treat my Acne?

If you suffer from inflamed acne, antibiotics can be a good treatment. If your acne is mild and mostly consists of whiteheads and blackheads, you may wish to look for an alternative treatment. You should not take antibiotics for acne if you are under 12, pregnant (or hoping to become pregnant or breastfeeding. Make sure your doctor or dermatologist is fully aware of your entire medical history before beginning a prescription and do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have about your suitability for antibiotic acne treatment.

Side Effects of Antibiotics

There are a few side effects of antibiotics that you should be aware of before beginning treatment. These include:

  • Higher risk of developing a yeast infection (Thrush/Candida)
  • Increased skin sensitivity to light
  • Allergies
  • A reduction in the effectiveness of oral contraception (You will need to use secondary contraception methods such as condoms for the first few weeks of your prescription)

Antibiotics for Acne During Pregnancy

You can take some antibiotics for acne during pregnancy but in general they should be avoided. Erythromycin has been shown to be safe for use during pregnancy but other antibiotics like Tetracycline can cause problems during pregnancy. Tetracycline is known to cause bone defects in unborn children. If you are likely to become pregnant while on an anti-acne antibiotic, make sure you raise the issue with your doctor or dermatologist.

How to use Antibiotic Treatments for Acne

How an antibiotic treatment should be used depends entirely on the type of antibiotic you are taking. Your doctor or dermatologist should give you full instructions about how to use your prescription and the medication itself should come with an information leaflet. Make sure that you ask your practitioner any questions you might have and please read the information available thoroughly.

Cost of Antibiotic Treatment for Acne

Antibiotic treatment for acne is free on the NHS, although you may have to pay a set charge for your prescription. In the US, the cost of antibiotics depends on the kind you use. Tetracycline can cost around $14.99, Doxycycline can cost around $31.97 and Minocycline is priced at about $36.97. You may also have to pay a charge for medical examinations, appointments and tests before you are prescribed an antibiotic.

How Effective are Antibiotics at Treating Acne?

How effective antibiotics are at treating acne seems to be a little hit and miss. For some people, antibiotics can be extremely effective and, over the course of about three months can have a dramatic improvement on the number of ‘spots’ and the overall appearance of your skin. For others, however, antibiotics can have very little effect.

There are a number of antimicrobial treatments available and these come with their own side effects and benefits and instructions. Make sure you know exactly which medication you are using and that you understand exactly how to use it. Contact your practitioner if you have any questions.

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