Flattening Acne with Topical Antibiotics

An aberration in the natural functioning of the pilosebaceous unit is the basic cause of acne breakout. A pilosebaceous unit, which is embedded deep inside the skin layer called epidermis, consists of a sebaceous gland or oil gland, a hair follicle, and a hair strand. Due to some abnormality in the hormonal balance, this follicle gets blocked by unwanted dead cells and as a result the secreted oil from the oil gland gets trapped within the follicle. The entire trapped substance gets infected by microbial attack. And it swells up the area which we see as small or large bulges on our skin surface that is known as Propionibacterium acnes.

Antibiotics are undoubtedly matchless remedy for any kind of bactenal infection and P. acnes are not an exception either. Topical antibiotics are thus cherished as a two-way solution which works not only by attacking and killing the bacterial growth, but also opening the skin pores at the same time.

Following are the categories of all available antibiotics in topical form

Topical Clindamycin: This is the most popular antibiotic used by physicians for acne treatment. It is available in solution, lotion or other forms. All available forms have 1% strength. This medicine is most effective for moderate to severe acne condition. A regular application of it on the affected areas at least twice a day is usually advised by dermatologists. Side effects are not totally unavoidable just as in any other antibiotics. But the positive aspect of this topical antibiotic is that it is generally well tolerated by its users, with some exceptional cases of irritation, stomach cramps, unusual bleeding and sometimes nausea and vomiting. However precautions must be followed in case of patients with ulcerative colitis, regional enteritis, diarrhea, etc. And those with a past record of antibiotic-generated colitis must not undergo topical medication using clindamycin or at least discuss with the concerned physician before taking it. Topical clindamycin is also not advisable for pregnant women or women who are breast feeding their babies on a regular basis.

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Topical Erythromycin: The second most widely used topical antibiotic medicine is topical erythromycin which comes in a range of variety like gel, lotion, skin ointment or pledgets available at 2% strength. Like in other topical skin care medications, topical erythromycin is also applied twice a day directly on the lesions after washing and pat drying the face. The skin should be moist enough while applying it on the affected areas. However, pledgets are rubbed all over the affected area to get the same effect. Dry skin, irritation, swelling, redness, itching, pain, etc. are quite likely to happen as minor side effects. Although one has to wait for at least 8 to 10 weeks to get the full impact, the concerned physician must be informed if there is no visible changed noticed within 3 to 6 weeks of administration of this medicine. A remarkable advantage of this antibiotic is that it is harmless for pregnant women. However consultation with some well experienced physician is required while administering it on children.

Topical Tetracycline: Topical tetracycline is another successful antibacterial medication to combat acne. It is also available as solutions, and ointments, but at different strengths. Usage of tetracycline as a topical antibiotic is very limited. Tetracycline is denved from sulfur, and therefore contains sodium bisulfite. A known side effect of this medication is yellowing of the skin. Once again this is another antibiotic which might generate adverse effects on pregnant and breast-feeding women or people with a history of allergic reactions to tetracycline or sulfites, dyes, preservatives, and the like. Tetracycline should certainly not be used along with a certain other antibiotics. Even if you are using any other skin care products, then you must consult your physician before continuing or discontinuing them while administering tetracycline.

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Topical Metronidazole:

This topical antibiotic is commonly used to cure acne rosacea rather than acne vulgaris. Metronidazole skin care products are available at 0.75% strength. An extensive consultation with the concerned physician is needed if you have a habit of drinking alcoholic beverages or suffering from anemia, any other chronic illness or have an allergic tendency toward metronidazole, dyes, foodstuffs, or preservatives, etc. Cautions should be followed regarding the consumption alcohol and warfarin since they might be liable to interact abnormally with metronidazole. Burning, itching, redness, watering eyes are the commonly reported side effects associated with this particular antibiotic.

Topical antibiotics, irrespective of their advantages, must be administered with great care and under the supervision of a physician. It is advisable to act according to the instructions of the dermatologist regarding the dosage, power, and usage of other antibiotics and skin care products while applying any antibiotic topically.

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