At one time, antibiotics were the go-to treatment for acne.
However, these days, it has been recognized that the condition isn’t actually caused by bacterial infections, and when this knowledge is paired with the fact that there is an increase in antimicrobial resistance which is rendering antibiotic treatments useless, it makes sense to avoid using them as an acne treatment.
While it’s true that antibiotic treatments may reduce the severity of acne, there are numerous reasons why you should avoid using them whenever possible.
Antibiotics Can’t Treat The Causes Of Acne
Bacteria isn’t actually responsible for causing acne. That means that when you take an antibiotic to treat acne, it’s only treating one of the symptoms instead of the cause.
Some of the causes of acne include genetics, environment, diet and stress.
All of these factors can damage the fatty acids of the skin and result in overproduction of the protein which sticks dead skin cells together. This causes blocking of the pores which produces pimples. None of these elements can be addressed by antibiotics.
An Ineffective Treatment
Even in the days when antibiotics were the first line of treatment for acne, they had a very poor success rate.
One study carried out in the UK showed that as many as 82% of patients saw little or no improvement in their acne even after several courses of antibiotics.
Acne has actually become more resistant to antibiotics over the last forty years and this creates a further problem.
Bacteria Becomes Stronger
The more antibiotics are used by patients, the more bacteria will evolve and become resistant. This is a serious public health problem which is worrying medical experts today.
The treatment of drug-resistant infections is very difficult and even impossible and therefore avoiding over-prescribing antibiotics is vital.
Antibiotics Can Have Unpleasant Side Effects
When people take antibiotics to treat acne, they can develop unwanted side effects. Some of these can be serious and may be long-lasting or permanent.
While some are merely irritating and unpleasant such as teeth staining, heartburn and nausea, others can be life-changing.
There are many kinds of bacteria which live in the gut and intestines however antibiotic use harms some of these bacteria types while it may also encourage others to grow excessively. The result of this can be colon and gut problems.
People who are taking antibiotics for acne also have lowered immunity which makes them more vulnerable to a host of other conditions from the common cold to much more serious conditions.
This can lead to long-term health problems, especially as patients who are taking antibiotics for acne usually take them for extended periods – often several years.
There are also other worrying studies which have linked long-term antibiotic use to an increased risk of developing breast cancer, which is obviously something which is better avoided.
More Effective Treatments Exist
There are a number of other treatments in existence today for acne which have proven to be very promising.
For example, there is evidence to show that those suffering from acne often have a zinc deficiency. Patients who take zinc supplements often see a great improvement in their skin without any side effects or antibiotic resistance.
Many patients also find that dietary changes can be helpful while benzoyl peroxide and antioxidant supplements and topical creams are other viable alternatives.
Women who are acne sufferers can also often benefit from oral contraceptives and spironolactone to address the condition.
Is It Ever Right To Take Antibiotics For Acne?
Although there are many other options available these days to acne sufferers instead of relying on antibiotics, for some patients they may be the best option.
However, other treatments should always be tried first.
Also, when patients use antibiotics for acne, they should always use benzoyl peroxide too as this can reduce the incidence of antibiotic resistance in sufferers.
For most acne sufferers, trying an alternative treatment such as zinc supplements and topical creams will be more likely to achieve long term success in reducing or eradicating their acne than using antibiotics.
Also, as there are no unwanted side-effects and no antibiotic resistance, patients are much less likely to experience health problems in the future.