Acne vulgaris is a common skin problem that can be embarrassing and leave scars. Almost everyone has to deal with it at some point in their lives. As an inflammatory condition made worse by Propionibacterium acnes colonization, it often needs antibiotics that work all over the body to treat it properly.
Over the past 50 years, many different antimicrobials have been used to treat acne. The tetracyclines and macrolides, most often erythromycin, have been used as first-line antibiotics for acne. Many dermatologists now use azithromycin for acne, a different macrolide, to treat acne because bacteria are becoming more resistant to erythromycin.
What is azithromycin?
Azithromycin for acne is used to treat bacterial infections like bronchitis, pneumonia, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and infections of the ears, lungs, sinuses, skin, throat, and reproductive organs. Azithromycin is also used to treat or prevent disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection, which is a type of lung infection that HIV patients often get. Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic, which is a type of medicine. It works by stopping bacteria from growing.
Antibiotics like azithromycin won’t help with colds, flu, or other infections caused by viruses. If you use antibiotics when you don’t need to, you’re more likely to get an infection later that can’t be treated with antibiotics. Acne treatment with Azithromycin
Over the course of 46 weeks, researchers looked back at 99 cases of inflammatory acne in 79 people who were given oral antimicrobials. Patients were given tetracycline, erythromycin, minocycline, and doxycycline, which are the four oral antimicrobials that are most often given to treat acne. Azithromycin, an azalide antibiotic, was given in a single oral dose of 250 mg three times a week to people who couldn’t take this therapy or who had tried and failed traditional therapy. The other drugs were given every day in divided doses, which is what is done now. Patients were also given care on the skin.
For each agent, the effectiveness and reported side effects were looked at. In 4 weeks, there was a big change for the better. All of the agents worked well to reduce inflammatory lesions and make acne better. The number of patients whose inflammatory acne lesions went down by more than 80% was slightly higher for Azithromycin (85.7%), compared to the average of 77.1% for all other agents. None of the differences that were seen were statistically important.
The results show that azithromycin for acne is a safe and effective way to treat inflammatory acne, with few side effects and good compliance. They also suggest that more research is needed, such as a clinical trial that compares the long-term effectiveness and safety.
Long-term use of azithromycin for acne
Researchers say that many people with severe acne stay on azithromycin for too long before they are given a more effective drug.
A group led by Dr. Seth Orlow, chair of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, looked at the medical records of 137 patients over the age of 12. All of them went to Langone between 2005 and 2014 for help with their severe acne.
On average, the patients were on azithromycin for 11 months before their doctors decided the antibiotics weren’t working. Then, the acne drug isotretinoin was given to the patients (brand name Accutane).
The study also found that it took patients an average of almost six months to start taking Accutane after their doctors first told them about it.
How well does Azithromycin work to treat acne?
Different scientific studies have shown that taking azithromycin for acne can reduce severe inflammation by 20% in four weeks and cure acne in most people in eight weeks. Some people who took azithromycin for acne had mild side effects like stomach upset, heartburn, and feeling sick.
How long can I take Azithromycin to get rid of my acne?
Your dermatologist will give you azithromycin for the shortest time possible as part of your plan to treat acne. Since acne takes time to treat, this usually means three to four months. But some people with acne need to take an antibiotic for longer.
You can cut down on the amount of time you need to take azithromycin for acne as part of your treatment plan by:
Use all of the medicine that is part of your plan.
If you take azithromycin for acne by itself, it can quickly lose its ability to treat acne. When this happens, the bacteria keep growing, and you can get something called antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance is a health problem around the world. That’s why your dermatologist gives you more than just an antibiotic for acne. You may need to use an antibiotic along with benzoyl peroxide or adapalene gel.
Use gentle skin care to stop acne flare-ups.
You might want to scrub your skin clean to get rid of acne. Scrubbing your skin can irritate it and make acne worse. Follow the skin care tips to cut down on flare-ups.
Make sure you go to all of your dermatologist’s follow-up appointments.
Your dermatologist will be able to tell if the treatment is working or not. For some people, a different antibiotic is needed. Some people need a different kind of care.
Follow your maintenance plan.
Once your skin is clear, you’ll need a different treatment for acne to keep it from coming back. The majority of people can keep their skin clear by putting medicine on it. If you keep using the acne treatment in your maintenance plan, it will help keep your skin clear and make it less likely that you will need stronger acne medicine, like an antibiotic.
An antibiotic can be very helpful in getting rid of acne. If you take an antibiotic to treat your acne, make sure you take it seriously. This will help you get the most out of it as quickly as possible.