Antibiotics alone not recommended for acne

November 14th, 2016

In recognition of World Antibiotic Awareness Week (14-20 November), the Australasian College of Dermatologists has re-issued its advice to avoid using antibiotics alone for the treatment of acne. 

While antibiotics can be an effective component of acne management, topical or oral antibiotics should only be used in combination with other effective agents such as benzoyl peroxide or retinoids. Long-term use of antibiotics should also be avoided. 

The advice is in line with global action towards more responsible use of antibiotics to reduce further development of antibiotic resistance. 

People should be aware that antibiotic resistance is a major public health concern that requires us to modify our expectations of antibiotics as a ‘fix-all’.   

According to Australia’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy, almost one-third (30 per cent) of antibiotic prescriptions are inappropriate. 

Unnecessary use of broad-spectrum antimicrobials and incorrect duration of treatment are the main problems.  

The Australasian College of Dermatologists has previously indicated that more than half of acne-causing bacteria are already resistant to tetracycline and other antibiotics commonly used in the treatment of acne. 

However antibiotics can also help improve acne via their anti-inflammatory effect.