Oral and Topical Antibiotics

Treating Rosacea with Antibiotics

For over sixty years, oral antibiotics have been prescribed as an off-label treatment for the symptoms of rosacea. This dates back to a time when it was thought that rosacea was believed to be caused by bacteria or microorganisms on the skin. Although there has been very little evidence to support this theory, the practice of prescribing antibiotics continues to this day. What we have found is that the antibiotics do produce some degree of anti-inflammatory benefits and many view this as an improvement of their rosacea symptoms.

One of the negative side effects to this practice is that long term use of antibiotics has contributed to the global health crisis of super bugs and resistant strains of bacteria.

Antibiotics as a rosacea treatment may reduce the number of acne pimples and the bacterial inflammation or redness around the acne pimples. The problem is that antibiotics cause more rosacea redness. Antibiotics are available in two forms: oral antibiotics are taken by mouth kill bacteria in the pores of the skin and are prescribed initially in higher doses and then tapered off as the symptoms improve, topical antibiotics are applied directly to the skin to kill bacteria o the skin's surface.

In using antibiotics to treat rosacea, the physician or dermatologist generally starts with a milder version of an oral antibiotic such as Oracea or Tetracycline and should be tapered off in three to five months but have been found to be prescribed for much longer periods of time. Because bacteria mutate very quickly the initial antibiotic may lose its effectiveness in just a few months. If the symptoms have shown improvement over this time, the decision may be made to switch to a topical antibiotic rather than a stronger oral antibiotic.

There are many reported side effects to antibiotic usage including but not limited to allergic reactions such as skin rashes, redness or hives, upset stomach, indigestion, nausea diarrhea, or vomiting, yeast infections and sun sensitivity.

The rising concerns of mutated strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria make the practice of routine prescriptions of antibiotics for acne and rosacea a controversial choice. However it is still a very common practice. Some of the more common oral and topically prescribed antibiotics to treat to rosacea are listed below:

Topically applied Erythromycin. Erythromycin is one of the macrolide class of antibiotics. It is commonly used alone or in combination with other acne medications to reduce pimples and inflammation. Acne occurs when the pores of the skin become blocked and in some cases may become red and inflamed. This type of antibiotic treats the bacterial growth responsible for the inflammation.

Erythromycin is marketed under several other names: A/T/S®, Eryderm®, Erygel®, Erycette®, Erymax®, Erythra-Derm®, Ery-Sol®, Staticin®, Stiemycin, and T-Stat®.