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How Effective Is Metronidazole for Acne?

By Lee Johnson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Using metronidazole for acne is an effective treatment, but it is mainly useful for treatment of the swelling and redness caused by the condition. Studies have shown the medication can be effective when administered in a gel form with 1 percent concentration and that it can be effective in combination with benzoyl peroxide. Metronidazole is used in a topical gel form for the treatment of acne rosacea, which is more common in adults than teenagers. Doctors don’t know exactly how metronidazole helps patients suffering from acne, but it is effective.

Common among teenagers, children and young adults, acne is the most common type of skin condition that affects people. The condition is characterized by skin blemishes appearing on the chest, back and face of affected patients, and it often affects the self esteem of those suffering from it. Hormones released during puberty can cause the onset of acne, and most people will experience some form of acne in their lives. Most patients who use treatments such as metronidazole for acne will see a reduction in symptoms by about half within three months of beginning treatment.

The topical cream version of metronidazole for acne is the one that is most commonly used. Metronidazole is an antibiotic drug that has been developed as a cream for treatment of acne rosacea. Although the actual mechanism by which it works is a mystery to doctors, it is believed to attack the DNA of bacteria and prevent them from creating new DNA. The drug works primarily against bacteria that do not require oxygen to survive and multiply. When metronidazole is prescribed for acne, it works primarily as an anti-inflammatory, reducing the inflammation and redness associated with the condition.

Studies conducted into the effects of metronidazole cream on acne have concluded that it can be an effective treatment. Research performed on lower concentrations of the treatment, such as a 0.75 percent preparation, have had inconclusive results, but higher concentrations get positive results. Concentrations as low as 1 percent have had positive effects in scientific research, and the results are similarly positive when combined with another treatment such as benzoyl peroxide. This suggests that prescribing metronidazole for acne can be effective when it is administered in the form of a cream.

Side effects are rare with metronidazole cream, and if they do occur, they are unlikely to be particularly severe. Some patients have experienced side effects such as nausea, skin redness, itching or a burning or stinging sensation in the skin. These side effects are not likely but can occur in some patients, along with the possibility of an allergic reaction to the cream.

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Discussion Comments

By literally45 — On Aug 15, 2013

I think the less metronidazole the gel has, the more effective it is. Metronidazole is strong and when it's too potent, it can backfire and make things worse. Metronidazole .75% is available and works better.

By turquoise — On Aug 14, 2013

@feruze-- I think metronidazole works for some people. It depends on what type of acne one has and how bad it is. It also depends on what type of metronidazole is being used.

Are you using 1% or 2% metronidazole and is it combined with benzoyl peroxide?

I'm getting good results with 1% metronidazole gel with benzoyl peroxide. The cream did not work for me and neither did the metronidazole only gel.

So you might want to try a different metronidazole treatment. Because in my opinion, it definitely has the potential to relieve acne and rosacea symptoms.

By bear78 — On Aug 14, 2013

I have acne rosacea and my doctor prescribed metronidazole gel for it. It seemed to help for the first few days and then it did nothing. I think it's not as effective as some other treatments, like retin-A.

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