Antibiotics For Acne

The Best Antibiotics for Fighting Acne

Sometimes topical acne treatments just aren’t enough. If you’ve been applying cream after cream to your acne with no improvement in sight, then you should consider seeing a doctor. A dermatologist may determine that your skin could benefit from a course of antibiotics. Fluctuating hormones cause an overproduction of sebum that clogs pores. These clogged pores create an ideal environment for the bacteria P. acnes (a skin bacterium normally harmlessly present on the skin surface) to reproduce and cause the inflammation that we call acne. Sometimes antibiotics become necessary if the bacteria don’t respond to topical treatments.

So what kind of antibiotics will your dermatologist consider for your acne treatment? Here are some of the most common:

Tetracycline. Many acne sufferers have been prescribed tetracycline at some point, often with great results. A typical dose of tetracycline is 500mg twice per day, taken on an empty stomach for best results. Tetracycline is usually one of the first antibiotics prescribed, since it is usually well-tolerated by most people. Some common side effects are stomach cramps and increased skin sensitivity to sunlight. If tetracycline has no effect, then your dermatologist will probably move onto one of these next antibiotics.


Not only does this antibiotic combat against the overproduction of P. acnes; it has been shown to reduce the redness and inflammation that is caused by an outbreak. For acne sufferers, this has a distinct advantage over tetracycline, as it can provide immediate relief for some of the more embarrassing side effects of acne. Erythromycin should be taken with food, and will be prescribed in either a 250 or 500 mg dose, which should be taken twice a day. Side effects may include nausea and an upset stomach (which can be further irritated by taking this antibiotic on an empty stomach).


This antibiotic is a derivative of tetracycline, and has been used to treat pustular acne for many decades. Like tetracycline, monocycline should only be taken on an empty stomach, as food can decrease the antibiotic’s effectiveness against P. acnes. Side effects may include an upset stomach, nausea and dizziness, with longtime users possibly experiencing tooth discoloration and skin pigmentation changes.


Doxycycline is a gentle antibiotic, so it’s used for acne sufferers who cannot tolerate stronger medications. If prescribed this antibiotic, you’ll take two 50-100 mg pills each day with food. Side effects can include an upset stomach and nausea, which can be further aggravated by an empty stomach. Additionally, this antibiotic can increase your sensitivity to the sun, so be sure to invest in a good sunscreen if you’re prescribed this antibiotic.


This antibiotic is one of the few that can be prescribed as a topical treatment instead of an oral one. The advantage to using this antibiotic is that you won’t experience an upset stomach or nausea, since the medication is absorbed through the skin.
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