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Acne treatments are moving away from long-term antibiotics

Researchers are hoping this trend will alleviate antibiotic overuse concerns

Photo (c) Jevtic - Getty Images
Doctors have long been prescribing antibiotics to patients with acne, but according to a new study conducted by researchers from Rutgers University, this trend is shifting.

The study revealed that doctors are looking to move away from antibiotics to treat acne, and instead transition into a more comprehensive course of treatment that utilizes other remedies.

“People are more conscious about the global health concern posed by the overuse of antibiotics and that acne is an inflammatory, not infectious, condition,” said researcher Hilary Baldwin. “Overuse of antibiotics also can promote the growth of resistant bacteria, which can make treating acne more challenging.”

Finding the most effective course of treatment

Though commonly associated with the teenage years, acne affects consumers of all ages, and oftentimes it is spurred by varying hormone levels.

The researchers explain that many doctors reach for their prescription pads when treating acne, prescribing both oral and topical antibiotics to patients. However, those treatments come with some dangerous side effects. Studies have shown that being on an antibiotic long-term can affect blood sugar levels and increase the risk for skin bacteria and upper respiratory infections.

This trend has spurred physicians to move away from those traditional courses of treatment and instead give patients a combination of different options to get rid of acne. The researchers note that light and laser therapies have proven to be effective, as has the combination of topical retinoids and benzoyl peroxide.

Several retinoids have helped patients fight acne, particularly the more severe cases, as the researchers highlighted the use of isotretinoin in preventing future breakouts.

“This oral medication is unique among acne therapies in that it has the potential to not just treat acne, but to eradicate it,” said researcher Justin Marson. “It is 80 percent effective if a complete course is taken.”

While changing diet can sometimes help alleviate acne problems, the researchers point out that more work is needed in this area to see if there is a clear link between what consumers put in their bodies and the likelihood of developing acne.

“...There is some evidence that casein and whey in dairy may promote clogged pores and that low levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in foods such as fish contribute to inflammation that can lead to acne,” Baldwin said.

The researchers see the benefits of using antibiotics in conjunction with other treatment options to help treat acne for the short-term, but they want physicians and patients to know that there are other options that can be just as effective.

“Numerous studies have shown that these combinations are fast, effective, and help reduce the development of resistant strains of bacteria that causes acne, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] recommend that antibiotics be used for a maximum of six months,” said Baldwin.

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