Bacteria, such as Propionibacterium acnes, that are naturally present on the human skin, contribute to the formation of acne lesions (see our post on the causes of acne). Antibiotics are effective treatments for acne and are believed to work both by reducing the quantity of bacteria on the skin surface and thorugh additional anti-inflammatory effects.
Antibiotics can be used topically (directly on the skin as creams, gels or ointments). Antibiotics used in this way include erythromycin (for example Zineryt) and clindamycin (for example duac gel or dalacin T).
Antibiotic tablets will usually be taken for a course of a few months of treatment. The most common are tetracyclines, for example, lymecycline are usually well tolerated. Other antibiotics that can be used include erythromycin or trimethoprim. Antibiotic tablets can be very effective treatments for mild or moderate acne, however acne can recur when they are discontinued.