Antibiotics in Dermatology and Alternative Treatments

Advanced Dermatology, PC Blog Antibiotics in Dermatology and Alternative Treatments

Recent campaigns have been initiated that are attempting to limit the prescribing of antibiotics. Of all medical specialties, dermatology was found to be the one with the highest rates of antibiotics prescribed. Antibiotics are used in dermatology for both treating conditions like acne and rosacea and for skin infections. The overuse of antibiotics has led to the resistance of P. acnes bacteria, which causes acne, to both topical and oral antibiotic treatments. There are many effective treatments for acne that do not require antibiotics, however, which include topical treatments like benzoyl peroxide, medications like Accutane, and in-office procedures like light based treatments and chemical peels.

The kind of treatment used depends on the different causes of acne and how an individual responds to treatment. While sometimes antibiotics are still the best option, here are just a few treatments for acne that your dermatologist may give you that do not require antibiotics.

Benzoyl Peroxide/Salicylic Acid Washes

Woman washing faceBenzoyl peroxide works by reducing bacteria that cause acne. Salycylic acid works by unclogging pores to shrink pimples. Both can be found in a variety of topical forms and are often incorporated into face washing routines one to two times daily depending on how the individual’s skin reacts. Sometimes using twice a day will irritate the skin and in this case use should be reduced to once daily. These over-the-counter washes can often help clear mild to moderate acne.


Accutane is a form of vitamin A, also called isotretinoin, which helps speed skin renewal and reduces the amount of oil produced in your skin. Acne bacteria grows in oil produced in the skin so as the oil is reduced, the acne is reduced as well. Since Accutane is an especially powerful drug that can cause serious birth defects, most women who take the drug have to take extra precaution not to get pregnant. Accutane is used to treat moderate to severe acne.


Male face at acleara treatmentAcleara (now called Theraclear) is a light based acne treatment that also uses suction to both clean out pores and reduce acne-causing bacteria. It requires multiple in-office treatments to clear the majority of acne. A benefit to Theraclear treatments is that there are no side effects like there may be with medications. Theraclear can treat mild, moderate, and severe acne.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels exfoliate the skin, which promotes cell turnover and can prevent pores from becoming clogged. Usually multiple peels are required to see results. The kind and strength of the chemical peel will be determined based on your individual skin needs and acne condition.

There are many options for treating acne and some are more effective than others for different skin types. Whatever treatment you and your dermatologist decide on it is important to stick with the regimen and not get discouraged. Sometimes with acne treatments the acne can flare up worse initially before it starts to clear. Following the recommended instructions for your skin care regimen as closely as possible will help you get the best results.

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