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Choosing wisely: how to treat acne with antibiotics

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Skin experts are warning that people with acne should be considering a combination of treatments for the most effective way to clear skin in a world where bacteria are fighting back.

According to the Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD), more than half of acne-causing bacteria are already resistant to commonly used antibiotics such as tetracycline to treat acne.

The general problem of antibiotic resistance has driven Choosing Wisely Australia – a national campaign from NPS Medicinewise advocating for the responsible and effective use of antibiotics.

The solution for acne sufferers? Don’t rely totally on antibiotics. Double up with another treatment at the same time.

Dermatologist Dr Mei Tam from All About Acne, said antibiotics treat acne in two ways – zapping the acne bacteria P. acnes and dampening down the inflammatory process that causes pimples.

Adding in another type of treatment that can work on unclogging pores can deliver the knock out blow to persistent acne.

She supports the ACD’s advice to combine antibiotics with topical treatments such as benzoyl peroxide creams or gels, which act as an antiseptic and unclogging agent.

“Antibiotics should not be used as the only strategy for acne, especially both topical and oral antibiotics at the same time as this only encourages resistance,” she said.

Her treatment advice:

Mild to moderate acne: 3-6 months trial of antibiotics together with an unclogging topical gel or cream. Phase out antibiotics when acne has improved.

Severe acne: antibiotics for the first 4-6 weeks of isotretinoin treatment to prevent flare-ups, then continue with isotretinoin alone.

All About Acne is an information resource about acne and acne treatment. A group of health and medical professionals from around Australia volunteer their time and expertise to provide the most up-to-date information.


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Posted On: 21 April, 2016
Modified On: 20 April, 2016


Created by: myVMC