5 Reasons I Don’t Recommend Antibiotics for the Treatment of Acne

August 01, 2019

1. Bacterial Resistance & MRSA

The over-prescription of antibiotics has led to antibiotic resistance and the development of superbugs like MRSA that cannot be treated with the currently available medications. If you haven’t heard of the superbug MRSA, you need to know that this is a very dangerous type of staph infection. One main reason MRSA is so dangerous is that it is resistant to most antibiotics. Experts believe that MRSA evolved because of the overuse of antibiotics and dermatologists treating acne primarily with antibiotics is a prime contributor. In addition, P. acnes bacteria that contribute to the development of acne lesions is becoming drug-resistant, meaning that the antibiotics previously used to treat the skin are less effective.

2. Immune Impact

According to a study in the September 2005 Archives of Dermatology, people who use antibiotics are more than twice as likely to catch colds. The common cold is a virus – not directly affected by antibiotics; but antibiotics not only attack the harmful bacteria, but also the beneficial bacteria that are part of the body’s defense system. This results in an increased frequency of viral infections.

3. Digestive Disturbance

One of the most common side effects I see after a patient has taken antibiotics, whether for acne or other infections, is the development of digestive concerns such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, heartburn, etc. These concerns are the result of the antibiotics impacting the vulnerable gut microbiome and can persist long after the discontinuation of antibiotics.

4. Yeast Infections

Women who take antibiotics are at increased risk of developing recurrent vaginal yeast infections. Vaginas maintain their own balanced mix of yeast and bacteria. A type of bacteria called Lactobacilluskeeps the vagina slightly acidic, which isn’t welcoming to yeast. Antibiotics not only eradicate problematic bacteria but also wipe out beneficial bacteria, including Lactobacillus. Without enough Lactobacillus, your vagina becomes less acidic, making it an ideal environment for yeast.

5. Long Term Failure

Clinically, I have seen countless women and men who have been taking antibiotics off and on for years to treat their acne without complete resolution. While Propionibacterium (P) acnes is implicated in the pathophysiology of the condition by producing an inflammatory cascade, acne is not the result of bacterial infection because all adults have acne in follicles and the severity of acne does not correlate with P. acnes counts. I have found that an appropriate topical regimen to prevent the build-up of cellular debris within the pores, reduce inflammation and balance oil production is more successful with long term management and treatment of acne when paired with professional guidance about lifestyle modifications that address the underlying imbalances.

Dr. Jen Newell, ND is the founder of the Naturopathic Skin Care Clinic at the Integrative Health Institute. She is committed to helping others resolve frustrating skin issues because she struggled with hormonal cystic acne and mild rosacea for over 10 years. Dissatisfied with the results from oral contraceptives, antibiotics and other conventional treatments, Jen decided to take matters in her own hands and find a safer and more sustainable solution to achieve healthy, glowing skin. She is now a leader in her field and a pioneer for a holistic approach to skin care.

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