For most of us, when we look better we feel better. And when you have acne breakouts, you not only don’t look your best but it can have an important emotional impact as well. Fortunately, as a result of both the topical and internal medicines available today, for most people acne is easily controlled, but many of the medicines require long term treatment for months and even years.
Of the three types of internal medicines available, antibiotics are the most common drugs used, and many patients ask if taking antibiotics for acne, especially for years or even just months, is safe.
To answer this question, we need to discuss two issues.
First… Is long term antibiotic use dangerous to my system?
When taken as prescribed, since in the United States, oral antibiotics require a prescription from a physician, when taken as prescribed, long term use is generally safe. Some antibiotics require occasional blood tests to monitor that there are no adverse effects from the pills and in the rare events that there are, stopping the antibiotics usually allows those side effects to resolve by themselves. Of course, as with any medication, anyone can have an allergic reaction to any medication at any time, which also requires stopping that medication and not using it again… although a different antibiotic can then be used.
The second issue is, “Will long term use of antibiotics weaken my system to serious infections or make the antibiotic less helpful if I need it for other reasons in the future?"
Again I’m happy to say that no, it won’t weaken your system. While in theory long term use of any antibiotic can encourage certain germs to become resistant to that antibiotic, the antibiotics used for acne usually are ones not used for important life threatening infections so the emergence of possible drug resistance is not a reason to avoid antibiotics if they’re useful in controlling your acne.
Your take away message in my opinion is that when it comes to long term antibiotic use for the control of acne, the upside far outweighs the down side.
And again, when we look better we feel better.