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Basics
Similar to the topical antibiotics, oral antibiotics work by fighting the acne forming bacteria p. acnes as well as fighting inflammation. The advantage of oral antibiotics over topical antibiotics is that they reach everywhere that acne may exist, including the face, neck, chest, back, and tops of the arms. They are also more advantageous in more moderate and severe acne that presents with "deeper" lesions.

How they work

Oral antibiotics work by inhibiting certain processes needed by bacteria to survive. In doing so, the bacteria is killed and cannot contribute to acne formation. In addition, through the blocking of certain cells in the body's immune system, oral antibiotics can decrease inflammation which helps control inflammatory acne (pimples, etc.).

Types of oral antibiotics
The main oral antibiotics used in the treatment of acne include minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin, Myrac), doxycycline (Adoxa, Doryx, Monodox), and erythromycin (Eryc, Ery-tabs) although at times others are used such as trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim).

Potential side effects
Perhaps the most common side effects of oral antibiotics are gastrointestinal in nature including stomach upset, heartburn, nausea and vomiting. This can often be decreased by taking the medications with food and water.

Most antiobiotics will also cause sun sensitivity, This is especially true with doxycyline and minocycline (doxycyline being the more sun sensitizing of the two). Erythromycin does not cause sun sensitivity.

Mincoycline may also cause some other rare side effects including dizzinesxs, blue black pigmentation of the skin, inflammation of the liver, and a reaction that resembles lupus.

Tetracyclines should not be taken by pregnany women or children who are younger than 9 years of age due to potential discoloration of teeth and delayed bone growth.

 

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