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Fears eased over long-term antibiotic use in acne

Treatment for acne with long-term tetracycline antibiotics lowers the risk of colonisation of Staphyloccus aureus by 70% and does not bring increased bacterial resistance, according to US research.

The researchers said the study should prompt GPs to reconsider the 'dogma' about long-term use of antibiotics and in particular tetracyclines, the most commonly used antibiotic family to treat acne.

Researcher surveyed 83 patients who were treated for acne with tetracycline for at least one month, to determine the frequency of S.aureus colonisation and to compare the susceptibility patterns between patients using antibiotics and those who were not.

Fewer than 10% of the isolates of S.aureus were resistant to tetracyclines. Overall, the use of any antibiotics – oral or topical – to treat acne was associated with a 69% decreased risk of S.aureus colonisation compared with those with acne who were not using antibiotics.

Study leader professor David Margolis, professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania school of medicine, concluded: 'Unlike current dogma about the long-term use of antimicrobial agents, the prolonged use of tetracycline antibiotics – both oral and topical – commonly used to treat acne lowered the prevalence of colonisation by S.aureus and did not increase resistance to the tetracycline antibiotics.'

Arch Dermatol. online 11 April 2011

GPs urged to rethink use of long-term antibiotics in acne

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