Who are they for?
Oral antibiotics are usually used in combination with a topical treatment to treat moderate to severe acne. They are only available on prescription from a healthcare professional.
How do they work?
Oral antibiotics help control acne by curbing the growth of bacteria and reducing inflammation.
What are the different types?
Tetracycline based antibiotics are the most commonly type of antibiotic prescribed for acne. These include: oxytetracycline, lymecycline, minocycline and doxycycline.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use tetracycline antibiotics but can take an antibiotic called erythromycin.
How are they used?
Antibiotics capsules or tablets should be taken by mouth every day. Some should not be taken at the same time as food, so follow the instructions carefully.
It will usually take about six weeks to notice a significant improvement in your acne symptoms. Depending on how well you react to the treatment, a course of oral antibiotics can last between four to six months.
Treatment is usually stopped after six months to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance.
What are the side-effects?
Side-effects of tetracyclines include:
Tetracyclines can make the skin sensitive to sunlight and UV light.Antibiotics may also make the oral contraceptive pill less effective during the first few weeks of treatment particularly in cases where nausea and diarrhoea occur, so you will need to use an additional method of contraception, such as a condom, during this time.
The most common side-effects of erythromycin are:
- mild stomach pain.
Taking erythromycin with food should help to reduce the severity of these side-effects.