Antibiotic for Acne:

Why Antibiotics Are Not the Answer for the Common Cold and Acne

By Dr. Ben Kim

For years, dermatologists have prescribed various oral and topical antibiotics as a first line of treatment for acne.

This standard of care may soon change due to a study in the September 2005 Archives of Dermatology that reports that people who use oral or topical antibiotics to treat acne have more than double the chance of having a cold during the following year. To put it plainly, regular use of antibiotics increases your risk of developing the common cold.

How can this be?

The medical community has known for years that regular antibiotic use in situations that are not life or limb threatening can lead to health problems related to killing off friendly bacteria in your body. Having lots of friendly bacteria in your body is important to your health because they enhance the strength of your immune system and contribute to a protective digestive tract lining.

What's particularly ironic about the findings of this study is that antibiotics are used so frequently in today's society to treat the common cold. So, not only does regular use of antibiotics increase your risk of getting a cold by weakening your immune system, if you treat your cold with antibiotics, your immune system will be weakened even further and your suffering will in all likelihood be prolonged.

Speaking of treating colds with antibiotics, are you aware that the common cold is related to viruses and not bacteria?

Antibiotics are useless against viruses. I'm convinced that a major reason why antibiotics are prescribed so frequently for the common cold is that many doctors don't take the time to determine whether a person's symptoms are related to a bacterium or a virus. Plus, many people have just come to expect a prescription for antibiotics when they have any symptoms that resemble a cold and make a trip to the doctor's office.

What many people don't know is that antibiotics have a mild anti-inflammatory effect. So even though antibiotics are useless against viral infections, they can make you feel better in the moment, just like Tylenol, Motrin, and other anti-inflammatory pills can.

Getting back to the study on acne that prompted this article, I hope it's clear that I don't recommend the use of oral or topical antibiotics to treat acne. Acne is best addressed by working on your diet, lifestyle, and emotional health. For some recommendations on treating acne from the inside out, view the following article: A Natural Approach to Curing and Preventing Acne.

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