Acne Bacteria Not As Resistant

Study supports continued use of antibiotics for acne treatment

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Widespread use of antibiotics has long been credited with creating antibiotic resistance in bacteria. A new study looked at the safety of long term antibiotic use for acne, and if those patients would be at risk for resistant bacteria

In a new study, researchers have found that long-term use of tetracycline antibiotics actually decreases the prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus growth by 70 percent.

"Take your tetracycline acne medication."

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine studied two groups of patients, one taking acne antibiotics and the other not taking acne antibiotics. This decreased growth rate was observed when patients used both oral and topical antibiotics.

Staphylococcus aureus bacteria naturally lives on the skin, but it can also be responsible for skin infections and life-threatening systemic infections.

This bacteria used to be responsive to many antibiotics and antimicrobial agents. Now, the bacteria has become resistant to many antibiotics. S. Aureus has a fantastic ability to adapt to these therapies and become resistant. 

Think Charles Darwin and The Survival of the Fittest. Therefore, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) is commonplace.

The study found that fewer than 10 percent of the isolates of S. aureus bacteria were resistant to tetracycline, the most commonly used antibiotic to treat acne.

Resistance to erythromycin and clindamycin was prevalent among the participants and was also noted in the patients who did and did not use antibiotics.

The Study

  • Assessed the prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on 83 patients treated for acne. Some of the patients were using antibiotics while others were not using the drugs
  • The researchers found that 36 of the acne patients were colonized with S. aureus. Two of those 36 patients had MRSA
  • 20 had S. aureus solely in their throats; one-quarter had S. aureus only in their noses, and seven had it in their noses and throats
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Review Date: 
April 25, 2011
Last Updated:
May 5, 2011