Beauty Myths No.13 – Antibiotics work for acne

Copyright Geof Kirby

Acne. Apparently the second most searched word on the internet, after porn (obvs).

It’s easily the topic of my most-asked questions and the lead search on this site.

I know I’ve already said this over on the cheat sheets for acne —> and it won’t be anything new to regular readers, but please, please think carefully before taking antibiotics for your acne.

Whilst there are a few forms of oral antibiotics that may kill off bacteria in your oil glands, what if your acne is hormonal? Food allergy related? Have you had it for years? Antibiotics are pointless in those situations. You may get some relief initially but as soon as you stop taking them – and in most cases before, the spots are back. Why?
Because they’re not bacterial – and you may already be resistant to the antibiotics prescribed.

Prescribing long-term antibiotic use is tantamount to abuse in my eyes. Antibiotics are without doubt a wonder drug. For treating the right illness.
Strep throat? Bacterial – get a prescription for it. Sore throat? Virus. Antibiotics don’t work for that. It goes without saying that if you are required to take antibiotics long-term for chronic illness, then I am not talking about your situation.
Meningitis or pneumonia? Antibiotics will save your life. Literally. I’m not bashing the drug. I’m bashing the over-prescribing of them by doctors, specifically GPs, not derms, who should know better.

And in the case of acne, especially in the UK, an antibiotic prescription is the first port of call from nearly every GP. Rather than refer you to a dermatologist or look at topical creams themselves, they write the PrX for tetracycline or erythromycin and send you on your way.

It’s your body. In your desperation for answers you may want to take anything thrown at you. But I would urge you to do a lot of research, make serious adjustments to your diet and lifestyle, ask about all the other options and most importantly, think of the side effects.

Long-term antibiotic use can:

  • wreak havoc with your digestive system
  • make you incredibly sensitive to the sun
  • destroy tooth enamel
  • make you resistant to antibiotic usage for severe infections
  • give you thrush on a continuous basis – which you then also need to medicate..

That’s just for starters.

I know what it’s like to have bad skin, do what you have to do to make yourself look and most importantly, feel better.

But please arm yourself with as many facts as you can before you start down this path. And if you’ve been taking them for months (or years) and you still have acne, listen to your body,¬†stop taking them.