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Home: Diseases & Conditions: Acne: Treatments: Topical Antibiotics

Acne: Topical Antibiotics

Acne Treatment With Topical Antibiotics

Topical antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria P. acnes that infect acne. Topical antibiotics also help keep the pores unblocked. Topical antibiotics are safer to use for a long period compared to oral antibiotics. Therefore they are preferred for moderately infected acne. The antibiotics used topically are: Tetracycline, Erythromycin, Metronidazole and Clindamycin. Clindamycin is the most popular antibiotic for topical application.


This is a very good antibiotic for acne. Oral Clindamycin may cause colitis; therefore it is used topically. Clindamycin is available as lotion, gel, cream, etc and is applied twice a day to the acne-affected skin. If you have any history of antibiotic induced colitis or any other colitis, do not use Clindamycin.


Tetracycline may cause allergic reactions and also may turn the skin yellow. It is not commonly used as a topical antibiotic for acne.


Erythromycin is popular as a topical antibiotic because it is well tolerated and causes few side effects when used topically. It is also safe for pregnant women.


Metronidazole formulation is used for rosacea and acne caused during rosacea. It is not commonly used for Acne Vulgaris.

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