Do antibiotics help cure acne?

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Over 6-week antibiotic treatment for acne raises risk of upper respiratory tract infection


BBC Acne Self-Help Guide

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Do antibiotics help cure acne?

Acne is normally due to increased grease production by glands under the surface of our skin. Normal skin bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) can contribute to acne by infecting the blocked channels from the gland to the skin's surface. This causes inflammation and sometimes build up of pus (dead cells and bacteria). In severe cases antibiotics have been used for long term treatment, often periods of six months. However, there is concern about these normal skin bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotic treatment due to the long term use of antibiotics in acne. The following websites have more information:
  • Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden reported at the American Society of Microbiology's General Meeting in 2001 that the use of antibiotics in acne leads to antibiotic resistance. See the original article at the Mediscover website.
  • Dr Jonathon Cove from the University of Leeds, UK spoke about acne and antibiotic resistance at a discussion group held by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) in 2002. See the original report at the IBMS website for more details. He is also co-author of an article in the British Journal of Dermatology.
  • Prodigy guidelines for GPs summarise the developing problem of resistance of acne bacteria to antibiotic treatment

Related Resources
Medical Microbiology: Acne and antibiotic resistance
NHS Direct Self-help Guide - Acne
Skin Disease Information - Acne
Resources about Acne
Prodigy Guidance - Acne Vulgaris
Minocycline for acne vulgaris: efficacy and safety. (Cochrane Review)
Antibiotic Tablets for Acne
BBC Acne Self-Help Guide

Date of Posting: 14/01/2003
Date of next Review: 02/11/2006

Related Questions:
So what else can I do to get rid of my acne?

MeSH keywords:
Acne Vulgaris; Drug Resistance; Microbial; Propionibacterium acnes; Acneiform Eruptions

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