Acne Treatment: Tetracycline

Tetracycline is a low cost and widely prescribed acne treatment. This antibiotic is prescribed for moderate to severe acne. Tetracycline is just as effective as antibacterial topical treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide, in treating mild to moderate acne, but more effective than benzoyl peroxide in those who suffer with back acne or have inflamed papules or pustules.

What Exactly Is Acne?

Acne is a condition that affects 40 to 50 million young people in America. Acne is formed when oil (sebum) gets trapped in hair follicles and combines with dead skin cells and bacteria to produce a sort of plug. When plugged follicles become raised and infected, they form pimples. Acne cysts occur deep inside the follicles and are filled with pus. This can cause painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin.

No one knows why some individuals suffer from acne and others do not. It is possible that acne is hereditary. Acne is usually due to hormonal fluctuations in teenagers and young adults. Acne breakouts are common in women just prior to their menstrual period or during pregnancy. Certain drugs, such as steroids or testosterone, are known to cause acne.

Controversy still exists about the relationship between one's diet and acne. Some people swear off of chocolate, nuts or oily foods as they feel these foods exacerbate their condition. Recent studies suggest an association between acne in teens and milk consumption due to the androgenic hormones found in milk. It is best to follow the advice of your physician or dermatologist regarding proper nutrition during acne treatment.

How Tetracycline Works to Combat Bacteria

Tetracycline works by preventing the growth of bacteria inside the sebacious glands. Tetracycline contains properties that reduce inflammation, especially in acne papules and pustules. A pustule is a small blister of pus that forms in the sweat glands. A papule is a painful bump that contains no pus. Tetracycline is rarely prescribed for individuals with milder forms of acne such as whiteheads or blackheads.

How and When to Take Tetracycline

Your dermatologist will prescribe the correct amount of tetracycline for you during your acne treatment. Do not take tetracycline with dairy products, as it can affect absorption of the antibiotic. Tetracycline must be taken on an empty stomach.

Possible Side Effects of Tetracycline

If you are on birth control pills, you must use a non-hormonal barrier method as extra protection against pregnancy; tetracycline can cause "the pill" to be less effective.

Pregnant women should not take tetracycline. The drug can cross the placental barrier and cause death or skeletal defects in the developing embryo. Breastfeeding babies can also suffer future bone and tooth abnormalities. Children under eight should avoid tetracycline because the antibiotic causes yellow or gray stains deep within the tooth enamel. .

Tetracycline is known to cause gastro-intestinal distress such as diarrhea or stomach pain. Throw away any tetracycline that is past its expiration date - it can damage your kidneys. Exposure to sunlight can cause sunburn in people on the antibiotic.

Follow the advice of your physician when taking tetracycline or any other medication.

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