Main Menu

Antibiotics (Topical) for Acne

Antibiotics applied to the skin may be prescribed for the treatment of acne.

Antibiotics help control acne by killing the bacteria that cause the acne lesions to become inflamed. The sebum (oil) within the hair follicles can become infected by p. acnes bacteria, resulting in swelling and redness of the acne lesion. Killing the bacteria reduces the inflammation and reduces the severity of the acne flare.

Unfortunately, the p. acnes bacteria that can develop resistance to antibiotics. When this occurs, that particular antibiotic is no longer effective in treating acne. If antibiotic resistance is suspected, a different antibiotic or different type of acne medication may be prescribed.

Antibiotic resistance is more likely to develop following the use of a topical antibiotic. The risk of developing resistance increases if a topical antibiotic is used for long periods, and without any other acne treatments. For this reason, topical antibiotics are usually prescribed for just a few weeks or months, and used in combination with other acne medications. Oral antibiotics, on the other hand, may be prescribed for longer periods of time.

Types of Topical Antibiotics Used for Acne

Take your acne medication exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed.

Read the medication guide that you receive with the medication for a complete list of possible side effects.

Speak with your doctor if you are concerned about possible side effects that you may be experiencing.