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How long should I take an oral antibiotic for acne?

Dr. Doris Day, MD
Dermatology
The usual minimum duration of therapy is 6 to 8 weeks. The maximum duration is usually approximately 12 to 18 weeks. If other therapies are not well tolerated, however, meaning that they are overly irritating to the skin or not effective and if the oral antibiotic therapy was working well, your dermatologist may rarely opt to recommend that you continue the oral antibiotic indefinitely. This is not an ideal option for most people. Periostat is the newer low-dose oral antibiotic that may be the exception to this general rule. Because the dose is so low, the idea is that it can and should be taken over a long period of time because the incidence of side effects is very low and resistance is not a problem.

After a successful course of antibiotics is completed, you should continue the topical regimen that your doctor prescribed to maintain clearance. Often prescription and over-the-counter treatments can be used together and can complement each other very nicely, but you should let your doctor know about all of the products that you are using on your skin.

Because there is no cure for acne and because so many factors cause the acne to recur, you may still need to retreat with oral antibiotics on occasion if you should have a flare of acne. In that case, your doctor will most likely recommend that you restart the last antibiotic that was effective and again complete a 12- to 18-week course. This pattern may need to be repeated on and off depending on how you do.
100 Questions & Answers About Acne

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100 Questions & Answers About Acne

100 Questions and Answers About Acne provides you with all the information you need to manage your complexion problems. Written by Dr. Doris J. Day, a world-class expert in the field, this clearly...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.