4 Reasons Antibiotics Are NOT The Answer To Your Acne
Doctors are quite content to keep you on an antibiotic treatment long-term.
In fact, Nagler, Milam and Orlow (2015) found that the average duration of antibiotic use for acne patients was 331.3 days, with 64.2% of patients being on antibiotics for 6 months or more, and 33.6% having been on antibiotics for 1 year or more.
My body has a hard time recuperating from 10 days on antibiotics, nevermind over a year! *CRINGE*
The researchers found that acne patients actually had extended exposure to antibiotics, far exceeding recommendations. Anyone who has ever taken antibiotics for an actual bacterial infection knows that courses of antibiotics are usually only 7-10 days in length (however, some chronic illnesses do require long-term therapy - but the benefits of long-term therapy usually far outweigh the risks). In the case of acne, the benefits do NOT outweigh the risks. Acne, serious as it may be to our mental health, does not merit long-term antibiotic use. There are other, safer options.
This excessive exposure can lead to other health issues far more serious than acne. If you're considering long-term antibiotic treatment for your acne, or you've been on antibiotics for a long time, please read on and consider bringing up these points to your doctor/dermatologist.
1. Antibiotic use can lead to autoimmune diseases. One case study saw an 18 year old girl being treated with minocycline for acne, resulting in drug-induced lupus, a chronic, autoimmune disease. Anyone with an autoimmune disease knows that it is quite possibly one of the most frustrating things to deal with - the body's immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. This results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs.
Another study reported 3 patients with minocycline-induced autoimmunity resulting in peripheral nerve vasculitis.
Antibiotic use can also trigger other autoimmune diseases like Crohn's and eczema.
Does acne really seem worth that gamble - especially when there are other treatment options?
2. Antibiotics also kill good bacteria along with the bad, and will disturb the balance of gut flora, contributing to gastrointestinal distress. Again, anyone who has ever been on long-term antibiotic therapy will know that gastrointestinal distress is a very common symptom. This disturbance results in diminishing the natural defense mechanisms provided by the colonic microbial ecosystem, making the host vulnerable to infection by commensal microorganisms or nosocomial pathogens. This can even lead to painful conditions like IBS. This can further exacerbate your acne situation in the long-run, as well. For more information on how acne is affected by our gastrointestinal health, check out my eBook.
3. One of the biggest risks of antibiotic use where it is not necessary is a community risk, that of increased antibiotic resistance. The more often antibiotics are prescribed, the longer we are exposed to them, the more types we are exposed to, the more likely an organism will develop resistance. People with weakened immune systems are at serious risk if they become infected with drug-resistant organisms, and otherwise healthy individuals can die or experience serious medical complications with a resistant infection. In some cases, microorganisms have become resistant to multiple antibiotics - this poses a very serious health risk.
The intensive use of antibiotics in areas where they are not warranted (in animal agriculture, coughs and colds, acne) led to antimicrobial-resistant strains becoming one of the main health issues worldwide.
If you think about it - how many types of antibiotics have you been on for acne? For other things? How many courses of antibiotics have you taken? So many acne patients are prescribed antibiotics every single day, and many of them stay on them for unnecessary amounts of time because once they stop using them, their acne comes back, which brings me to my next point ...
4. In many patients with acne, continued treatment with antibiotics can not only be inappropriate, but also wildly ineffective. In fact, some 82% of patients fail multiple courses of antibiotic treatments. This is an alarming rate of failure, and if anything else had this failure rate we would surely stop prescribing it for that particular condition.
This is because bacteria are not necessarily the root cause of acne - it may exacerbate acne, but it's not always there at the beginning. And in specific circumstances where bacteria are the cause, long-term antibiotic therapy is still unnecessary.
At the very most, it is likely safe to attempt one short course of antibiotics - and if the acne doesn’t go away, or it comes back once you stop taking it, then antibiotics are never going to be the solution to your acne problem, and you should avoid them for this purpose.
To learn more about the real causes of acne, and how to treat it without the use of antibiotics, check out my eBook.