Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.
Your Location is set to Change My Location
Cone Health wants to help you get well and stay well. This section provides tools and information to achieve good health and maintain your well-being.
Learn what community resources are available to help you get well and stay well.
View health and wellness news you can use from Cone Health providers on
View Advanced Search OptionsView All Doctors
View All Locations
Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Acne: Treatment With Antibiotics
COVID-19 Info: Vaccine Scheduling | Visitor Guidelines | COVID-19 Testing | More
Doctors often prescribe antibiotics to treat severe acne or acne that is likely to leave scars. Antibiotics improve the look of your skin by killing bacteria that cause acne. This means you'll have fewer pimples and redness. Less acne means less acne scarring.
You can put antibiotics directly on your skin (topically) or take them by mouth (orally). Topical antibiotics kill bacteria on your skin. Oral antibiotics kill bacteria in your skin pores. Oral antibiotics work best if you start them at high doses. Your doctor will reduce the dose as your acne gets better.
People with mild acne may need only topical antibiotics. The most common types include:
A topical antibiotic may be combined with a topical retinoid, such as tretinoin (Retin-A). Or a topical antibiotic may be combined with benzoyl peroxide gel.
Talk with your doctor before using these medicines if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
People with severe acne and people who are more likely to have scarring from acne often take antibiotics by mouth. The most common oral antibiotics include:
If you are using topical antibiotics or taking oral antibiotics, your doctor also may have you use benzoyl peroxide on your skin. This can make it less likely that you will develop antibiotic resistance.
For more information on antibiotics, see Drug Reference. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Current as of: July 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family MedicineEllen K. Roh MD - Dermatology
Current as of: July 2, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Ellen K. Roh MD - Dermatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Subscribe to our Wellness Matters e-newsletter, a monthly snapshot of the some of great wellness content from Cone Health providers.