How Effective Is Amoxicillin for Acne?

Sonal Panse
Sonal Panse
Amoxicillin is prescribed for short periods for acne treatment.
Amoxicillin is prescribed for short periods for acne treatment.

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.

Understanding Acne

For people with oily skin, topical creams may be more effective at treating acne than oral antibiotics.
For people with oily skin, topical creams may be more effective at treating acne than oral antibiotics.

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.

Doctors will take several factors into account before writing a prescription for amoxicillin for acne.
Doctors will take several factors into account before writing a prescription for amoxicillin for acne.

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

A specially formulated facial wash containing salicylic acid may be used to unclog pores, in addition to prescription acne treatment.
A specially formulated facial wash containing salicylic acid may be used to unclog pores, in addition to prescription acne treatment.

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.

Dosing Specifications

The vast majority of antibiotics can cause side effects among some patients.
The vast majority of antibiotics can cause side effects among some patients.

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.

Resistance Warnings

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.

Discussion Comments

anon930849

I used to get acne quite badly and when I visited the dermatologist, I was prescribed minocycline. This got rid of my acne entirely within two weeks so I went from having cystic acne to having 100 percent clear skin in just two weeks.

I was recently prescribed amoxicillin for strep throat. When I came off it I had a yeast infection and I broke out badly. The only precaution I would take when using this medication would be to ease off it so as not to go back to how your skin used to look the moment you discontinue use.

myharley

Do you have to be seen by a dermatologist to get a prescription for amoxicillin, or an antibiotic for acne?

I was hoping this was something that my regular doctor could prescribe for me instead of making an appointment with a dermatologist.

LisaLou

I have a hard time taking any kind of antibiotic for any length of time before I get a yeast infection. These can be miserable, and I had to find another way to help with my acne.

I know taking antibiotics for acne treatment works for a lot of people, but the side effects weren't worth it for me. Thankfully my acne was not that bad, and I used some medicated creams to help with it.

I had a friend who took amoxicillin for acne for a couple of years and never had any problems at all. As soon as she would stop taking it for awhile, her acne would return, so she stayed on it for a long time.

John57

When I took amoxicillin to treat acne, it worked great for awhile, but I must have developed some kind of resistance to it. I know this easy to do with antibiotics, and my body stopped responding to it.

It did a good job of clearing up my acne, but I had to switch to another antibiotic to continue getting good results. I also used an antibiotic cream in addition to the oral medication to help clear up my acne.

SarahSon

I had bad acne when I was a teenager, and the only thing that helped was taking oral antibiotics for it. The first acne antibiotic treatment the doctor prescribed for me was amoxicillin.

I noticed a difference within the first week, and that was a big motivation for me to continue taking the medication. It was such a relief to have clear skin after going so long with acne.

This can be a hard thing for teenagers to deal with. If my kids start having problems with acne, I won't hesitate to take them to a dermatologist and get some antibiotics for them.

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    • Amoxicillin is prescribed for short periods for acne treatment.
      By: Melpomene
      Amoxicillin is prescribed for short periods for acne treatment.
    • For people with oily skin, topical creams may be more effective at treating acne than oral antibiotics.
      By: Coprid
      For people with oily skin, topical creams may be more effective at treating acne than oral antibiotics.
    • Doctors will take several factors into account before writing a prescription for amoxicillin for acne.
      By: emiliau
      Doctors will take several factors into account before writing a prescription for amoxicillin for acne.
    • A specially formulated facial wash containing salicylic acid may be used to unclog pores, in addition to prescription acne treatment.
      By: ipag
      A specially formulated facial wash containing salicylic acid may be used to unclog pores, in addition to prescription acne treatment.
    • The vast majority of antibiotics can cause side effects among some patients.
      By: Alliance
      The vast majority of antibiotics can cause side effects among some patients.