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Rethinking Antibiotics to Treat Acne

Having acne means wearing your insecurities out in the open for everyone to see. Whether you are a teenager trying to make it through adolescence or an adult still struggling with skin problems, you might not be receiving the right remedy for your acne, a recent study shows.

Antibiotic Overuse: A Concerning Trend

Published in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the study found that acne sufferers were often put on antibiotics for an average of 11 months before the course of treatment was reevaluated and ruled ineffective. This long-term use of antibiotics until the treatment is reassessed plays into the growing issue of the overuse of antibiotics.

"Waiting nearly a year for improvement means there is something wrong with the treatment plan that needs to be adjusted," said Jennie Clarke, MD, a dermatologist with University of Utah Health. "Being on antibiotics for such a long period of time is not ideal, and treatment with antibiotics is generally recommended to be limited to three months."

Isotretinoin: A Powerful Option

Antibiotics are often used prior to the systemic retinoid isotretinoin (Accutane), an acne medication that has gained a bad reputation for its supposed drastic side effects.

Isotretinoin is the most effective acne treatment, Clarke explained. However, this does not necessarily mean more people should use it as their first treatment option. Rather, isotretinoin should be considered when acne threatens to cause scarring or when other treatments fail.

Finding The Right Treatment

"There is no reason someone with acne should continue to suffer," Clarke said. “Even if past treatments have failed, there is a way to find the right solution for you. We've had plenty of patients that had chronic acne for most of their lives, and we've been able to help them finally overcome the problem.”

Keeping your options open when it comes to treatment can make all the difference. It can help your doctor work through your choices and maintain a strong doctor-patient relationship. You can work together to find the best way to manage your acne.