If you have acne and your pimples look red, swollen and inflamed, you likely have a bacterial infection as part of your skin condition and you probably should seek help from a physician to avoid developing scars. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, moderate and some cases of severe acne will respond to oral antibiotic treatment. Physicians have used minocycline, a type of oral antibiotic, for decades to treat bad acne.
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Pimples begin to erupt when your pores get clogged with a combination of dead skin cells and sebum, the oil your skin produces for lubrication, according to the Mayo Clinic. A type of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes thrives in blocked pores, and can begin to grow out of control, causing infection to take hold. Raised, red pimples that hurt indicate bacterial infection.
Minocycline fights P. acnes infection in your skin, even though you take it orally. The drug is a tetracycline-type antibiotic that works by inhibiting the growth of P. acnes and other bacteria. This allows your body's immune system to kill the bacteria. You'll take most versions of minocycline more than once a day, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an extended-release form of minocycline, known as Solodyn, for use in treating severe acne, and you take Solodyn only once per day. Follow your doctor's instructions exactly when taking your medication.
Some people can have severe allergic reactions to certain antibiotics, including minocycline, that are used in acne treatment. If you develop a severe headache, dizziness, blurred vision, a fever or a rash while taking the medication, you should stop using it and call your physician immediately. Some people also develop digestive symptoms, including nausea, or sores in their genital area.
Minocycline effectively reduces inflamed acne lesions in many patients, medical research shows. One study, published in 1998 in the European Journal of Dermatology, reported that minocycline reduced inflammatory acne lesions by more than 50 percent after 12 weeks' treatment, while the number non-inflammatory lesions fell by about one-third. About 4 percent of those treated with minocycline experienced side effects, most of which were mild, the study noted.
Many strains of P. acnes bacteria have become resistant to the antibiotics dermatologists use to treat acne. However, minocycline often can succeed where other oral antibiotics fail in treating cases of moderate and severe acne, according to the AAD. In addition, more patients may be able to use minocycline long-term without their acne developing resistance to it, the AAD said.