Should you use an Antibiotic to Treat Acne?

Tess Thompson

In persistent cases of acne that do not respond to topical treatment, an antibiotic alternative is usually exercised by doctors. An antibiotic is a drug, synthetic or natural, that kills bacterial proteins while also inhibiting bacterial growth. If it was limited to this action, antibiotics would be the most preferred treatment for numerous bacterial disorders including acne. However, antibiotics cannot differentiate between bacterial proteins and cellular proteins that are part of the body cells. This is what causes the negative effects of antibiotics, commonly known as side effects.

Tetracycline is the most common and the first-use antibiotic for acne. It is a broad spectrum antibiotic and also the least expensive. Tetracycline and its derivative, Doxycycline, are taken on an empty stomach or at least two to three hours after meals as food restricts absorption of the drug. On the other hand, minocycline, another tetracycline derivative, is easily absorbed and can be taken with food.

Tetracycline has the least number of side effects. But over time, there has been an increased antibiotic resistance to the drug, and it does not seem to work as well these days. This necessitated the development of its derivatives. Doxycycline makes the skin sensitive to sun requiring sun protection every time you go outdoors. Both the derivatives also tend to cause gastrointestinal problems.

Erythromycin is a microlide antibiotic with an antimicrobial spectrum that is wider than that of penicillin. It acts on the protein synthesis of bacteria and slows bacterial growth. The gastrointestinal upsets like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain that it can cause are extremely disturbing.

If taken over long periods of time, some antibiotics may cause toxicity, including liver toxicity. These antibiotics should also not be ingested during pregnancy. Some antihistamines and antacids may interact with other antibiotics making it imperative to consult a doctor. On the other hand, herbal antibiotics such as garlic, aloe and fruit-based mild acids do not have any side effects.

Acne affects two-thirds of all adolescents at one time or another and a considerable proportion of adults as well. Oily skin or a bacterial invasion on a sensitive area is the main causes behind the outbreak. Topical creams do not have the same effect on every one due to the difference in skin types. The urgency for seeking treatment is obvious since if not capped immediately, the infection can spread over a larger area.

Acne is an inflammatory disorder of the skin. The approach to acne treatment may either be direct or indirect. Topical ointments and drugs form the major part of the direct treatment protocols. There is a strong belief that the hormonal changes that occur at puberty are responsible for occurrence of acne. When the level of testosterone increases, the body secretes hormone-like substances to fight the inflammation caused by it. Immune system health and acne are thus interrelated and a strong immune system can effectively prevent acne. A healthy lifestyle that limits junk food, practices regular exercise and uses herbs for strengthening immune system are natural means of preventing and fighting acne.


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