More than 60 million Americans suffer from some form of acne breakouts. Acne affects more than 80% of all teenagers at some point in their lives, and clogged pores comprise more than 25% of all visits to the dermatologist. Acne has now hit epidemic proportions in adults, especially women. What used to be just a "teenage problem" is now a real challenge in people's lives.
Women in their 30's, 40's and beyond are now not only dealing with aging skin but acne breakouts as well. Confused, they are running to the dermatologist faster than ever for a prescription of either topical or oral antibiotics to kill the acne-causing bacteria known as p.acnes (Propionibacterium acnes).
Is this a wise decision? As a licensed esthetician, acne specialist AND former acne-sufferer, I think NOT. Let me explain...
Antibiotics, when taken for acne, only address ONE part of the problem. They are meant to kill bacteria. They do not tackle the issue of excessive shedding of the skin cells. Normal pores shed up to one layer of dead skin cells per day, whereas the acne-prone pore will shed up to FIVE layers per day. To add insult to injury, the skin cells of an acne-prone pore are "stickier" than those of a normal pore. The "stickiness" causes the skin cells to clump together. To make matters even worse, an acne-prone individual produces more facial oil (sebum) which also tends to be thicker. The thicker sebum combines with the mass of dead skin cells and a plug begins to form in the pore causing blackheads and whiteheads. Bacteria love an anaerobic (without oxygen) environment and they begin to feed on the plug in the pore which causes inflammation. Antibiotics will do NOTHING to stop the excess shedding of skin cells.
Oral antibiotics have also been known to cause disturbances in the body's normal pH levels. Good bacteria are also killed off which throws normal flora completely out-of-whack. It's no wonder that a lot of times, doctors prescribe an anti-fungal medication right along with an antibiotic prescription. Yeast infection anyone??? There are also harmful side-effects to consider when using antibiotics, not to mention that the overuse of them has led to resistant strains of bacteria, including p.acnes and MRSA.
All in all, taking antibiotics for the treatment of acne just isn't a good option. At best, they are temporary solution. They DO NOT address the root of the problem whatsoever.
Have you taken antibiotics for acne? I'd love to hear your results; good, bad or indifferent. Please leave a comment below.
-Kelley (a.k.a. The Mineral Makeup Coach)