Acne Treatment: Topical Antibiotics

There are many solutions out there for acne treatment. Acne is caused by the effects of hormones. Follicles can become plugged with bacteria. This is what can cause the acne. Some treatments are available over the counter, and for more severe cases, a dermatologist may prescribe a topical antibiotic. Topical antibiotics are usually creams, gels or toners that are applied to the skin. The skin should be washed and dried before the medication is applied.

A topical antibiotic works by killing the bacteria that causes the pimples. It also helps to keep the pores open. There are many different kinds of topical antibiotics available for the treatment of acne. These must be prescribed by a doctor. Many popular topical antibiotics include Clindamycin, Erythromycin, and topical retinoids such as Retin-A.


Clindamycin is a cream that works by killing the bacteria and decreasing inflammation. There is a chance of developing skin dryness and irritation. Other side effects that may occur when using Clindamycin include inflammation of the bowels, including regional enteritis and colitis.


    Erythromycin also decreases inflammation, but it also contains an antimicrobial agent. There is a chance of skin irritation and dryness occurring. Other side effects that may occur include tenderness, rashes or possible stinging. Erythromycin is safe for pregnant women to use. Topical erythromycin is available in different strength gels, begining at 2% and going up to 4%.

      Topical Retinoids

      Topical retinoids, such as Retin-A, are made with Vitamin A. These medications can be used on mild to severe acne. Topical retinoids may take up to 6 weeks to see significant results. Topical retinoids work by increasing new cells, and peel off the top layer of skin while preventing the formation of new pimples. They may be used in combination with benzoyl peroxide. They also promote healing of the skin and may decrease the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Skin dryness can be a side effect of topical retinoids. When using topical retinoids, it is important to limit the sun exposure since the top layer of skin has been removed. If you are in the sun, you should always use sunscreen--a strong one!

        Side Effects

        Possible side effects when using these medications include skin dryness, redness, scaling and swelling. These side effects can be worse in people with sensitive skin. If too much irritation occurs, using these medications every other day or just once a day may be necessary. Applying a moisturizer may also help, as long as the moisturizer is applied over the antibiotic.

        There are many topical antibiotics that help with clearing up acne. Before using these medications, it is best that your doctor knows your medical history including allergies. Some of these medications can cause skin allergies. If a skin allergy develops, you should stop using it and call your doctor. If you suffer from chronic acne, talk to your doctor about treatments that may help. If topical antibiotics do not work for you, there are other treatments that may be prescribed.

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