Acne Channel
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Oral Medicines for Acne

Prescription Oral Medicines

For patients with moderate to severe acne, the doctor often prescribes oral antibiotics (taken by mouth). Oral antibiotics are thought to help control acne by curbing the growth of bacteria and reducing inflammation.
Prescription oral and topical acne medications may be combined. For example, benzoyl peroxide may be combined with clindamycin, erythromycin, or sulfur. Other common antibiotics used as treatment for acne are:
Some people have side effects when taking these antibiotics, such as:
  • An increased tendency to sunburn
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Changes in skin color.
Tetracycline is not given to pregnant women, nor is it given to children under eight years of age because it might discolor developing teeth.
Tetracycline and minocycline may also decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. Therefore, a backup or alternative form of birth control may be needed. Prolonged treatment with oral antibiotics may be necessary to achieve the desired results.


Your dermatologist may prescribe Accutane® if other acne treatments have not worked. Accutane (isotretinoin) is an oral drug for acne that is usually taken once or twice a day with food for 15 to 20 weeks. It markedly reduces the size of the oil glands so that much less oil is produced. As a result, the growth of bacteria is decreased. Accutane can help prevent scarring and treat active acne.
Advantages of Accutane
Accutane is a very effective medication that can help prevent scarring. After 15 to 20 weeks of treatment with Accutane, acne completely or almost completely goes away in up to 90% of patients. In those patients where acne recurs after a course of Accutane, the doctor may institute another course of the same treatment or prescribe other medicines.

Getting Rid of Acne

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