Monday, October 6, 2014 Are Antibiotics Necessary To Treat Acne?

The following is a preview of an article Dr. Miller wrote for Click here to read the full article.

Teenagers have gone to dermatologists for years to help them get rid of their pimples and blackheads. For decades, dermatologists have relied upon oral and topical antibiotics to treat their patients' acne. When initially used for acne in the 1960's, antibiotics worked extremely well. However, over time, the acne bacterium has become resistant to many antibiotics and the use of antibiotics in acne as a necessary treatment is now being questioned.

Why Use Antibiotics In Treating Acne?
The theory behind using antibiotics in acne stems from research that shows that in most cases of acne, there is an overgrowth of a bacterium called Propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes). Since there is an overgrowth of P.acnes, it stands to reason that an antibiotic may help. The antibiotic reduces or eliminates P. acnes, therefore improving the acne.

What Is The Problem With Antibiotic Use in Acne?
Reducing the bacterium that causes acne by using antibiotics may seem to be a good idea, however, there are several problems. First, once the antibiotics are stopped, P. acnes can start to grow again requiring ongoing antibiotic use. Eventually, P. acnes becomes resistant to the antibiotic being used and therefore, another antibiotic is necessary. Furthermore, it has been shown that P. Acnes can transmit its resistance to other more harmful bacteria. Secondly, the antibiotics used do not target only P. acnes. Other bacteria in our bodies, many of them beneficial, are eliminated as well and this can lead to other problems, particularly in the intestines. Lastly, P. acnes can be found and cultured from people who don't even have acne just as easily as it can be found on people who suffer from acne. Therefore, reducing or eliminating P. acnes may not be as important as it was once thought.

For more on this topic, including the alternative methods for treating acne, read Dr. Miller’s full article on

When trying to decide if you’d like to use antibiotics as a treatment for acne or try an alternative approach, be sure to consult your dermatologist first. At Greenville Dermatology, our skin care experts can help you determine what treatment is best for your skin. To schedule an appointment, call (864) 242-5872 today. 

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