Amoxicillin can be very effective for acne, but a lot depends on the patient, the reason for the skin breakout in the first place, and the strength of the dose. There are usually a couple of different reasons people develop acne. Sometimes it’s just because of excess oils on the face or temporary hormonal shifts; in these cases, amoxicillin isn’t normally very effective. It works relatively well, though, when the condition is caused by bacteria. Healthcare providers normally have to run a few tests to make this determination, and will usually also do a complete health workup of an individual before writing up a prescription. Antibiotics like amoxicillin do come with a number of side effects, which can factor into the decision of whether or not to recommend them to acne patients.
One of the biggest factors influencing whether amoxicillin for acne will be effective is why, exactly, the acne is present in the first place. Acne eruptions frequently happen during puberty, and in some cases the condition comes and goes more or less on its own. In these cases it’s usually caused by oil imbalances on the surfaces of the skin or internal hormonal shifts that spike and fall, and topical creams and surface scrubs are usually more effective than prescription drugs.
Antibiotics typically work best for skin conditions that are caused by bacterial infection. This is normally the case with persistent breakouts that seem to get worse, not better, with time, and that do not respond to surface treatments. Doctors can usually determine whether acne is caused by bacteria by taking samples from the skin eruptions and examining them under a microscope or by testing them with contrast agents in a lab.
Why it Works
Skin bacteria can cause acne eruptions when it begins to uncontrollably reproduce. Amoxicillin can stop these reproductions in their tracks by killing or immobilizing the bacteria at the cellular level. Most people who have this sort of acne will see results within a few days, though it can take up to a week for the breakouts to completely disappear. The drug is able to work so effectively because it is designed to kill only the bacteria, not any of the skin’s healthy cells.
The drug is typically taken orally and the usual dose is two pills per day. In most cases it is prescribed for a short length of time, usually ranging from a few days or weeks to up to two years at the most. The main idea is to kill the bacteria and cure the condition without allowing the body to develop a resistance to the medication. Acne-causing bacteria can be rather persistent, and people sometimes see a resurgence within a few weeks of finishing their prescription. Staying on the drug indefinitely is not usually recommended, however. People who have serious acne problems are usually advised to switch up their medications every so often, trying different doses and preparations, so that the condition remains under control.
The biggest problem with taking antibiotics is the possibility of resistance, which is when the body gets used to the drug and the bacteria becomes conditioned to it such that it stops being effective. This can have negative consequences where acne is concerned — the condition usually comes back — but it can also be troubling to a person’s health in general, since amoxicillin is used for a lot more than just acne. Resistance often means that the drug, which is a form of penicillin, won’t work for anything going forward.
Possible Side Effects
Amoxicillin also carries a number of side effects, which patients should weigh when determining whether or not its efficacy is worth it. Some people have experienced rashes all over their bodies after taking the drug, while others have suffered from a dry, cottony mouth and developed yeast infections. The medication also seems to cause dehydration and constipation in some people.
As with all antibiotics, people should only use amoxicillin for acne on the recommendation of a qualified dermatologist or general medical practitioner. In most cases it is not advisable to take amoxicillin during pregnancy, as there is a risk of harm to the fetus. In rare cases people are allergic to the drug, too, which can cause a number of negative reactions. Anyone taking the drug who suspects an allergic reaction should seek immediate medical attention.