Antibiotics vs. Acne

In the past, most people routinely used antibiotics to treat their acne, as the medical thinking was at the time that it was an infectious process.  More current research has shown that the acne bacteria (whose scientific name is Propionibacterium acnes, or P. Acnes for short) is only a part of the picture.

In fact, all of us at all ages have P. Acnes on our skin whether we are prone to severe acne or not.  The numbers of those bacteria on the skin do not correlate with the severity of the acne breakouts.

The point is that people can improve without use of antibiotics.  In general, in the medical field we are trying to avoid antibiotic use when possible due to the rising threat of antibiotic resistance.

In addition, liberal use of antibiotics can actually does more harm than good by killing “good” bacteria, which are important for digestion and immune defenses.  A significant reduction or complete obliteration of “good” bacteria for digestion alone can result in bloating, constipation, and chronic digestive diseases to name only a few symptoms.

The current trend is to avoid even topical antibiotics.  However, if antibiotics are used, they need to be combined with other treatments.

The goal for those of us with acne is to stop the inflammation process within the skin by unclogging the pores & follicles, and drying up excessive oil production.  When pores are unclogged and oil reduced, the breeding grounds for excessive bacteria is reduced.

Even when antibiotics are needed within a combination of therapies, it is important that they are only used for a short term.  A nice benefit of laser therapy for acne is that it helps to break the cycle of inflammation without antibiotic use by reducing oil gland size, hindering its production of sebum, and tightening pores.

The combination of various topical therapies and laser can treat a significant percentage of both teenage and adult acne patients.  Although antibiotics and even Vitamin A derivatives like Accutane still play significant roles in acne treatments, their use should be limited to individual exceptions, as frequently the risks outweigh the benefits.

If you have questions about acne, especially if you or a loved one have used current treatments without achieving desired results, please give us a call in Augusta at (207) 873-2158 or in Scarborough at (207) 303-0125 to schedule a free consultation.  Like many skin care issues, the amount and cost of treatment depends on the person, and we can give you an effective personalized treatment option that will fit your needs, along with a precise and unconditional estimate.

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