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Sale and Altrincham Messenger 23 May 2013


Q – I suffered terribly from acne as a teenager, and whilst the antibiotics I was prescribed did help, they also brought on symptoms of thrush. I am now 35, and the spots are back, but I don’t want to take antibiotics again. What else can I try? Jenny, Sale.
A – Hi Jenny. I am sure many readers will empathise with your position, acne being one of the most common skin complaints. In fact nearly 90% of teenagers experience acne at some stage, but contrary to popular opinion symptoms do not stop at adolescence, with 50% of sufferers experiencing symptoms well into adulthood. Acne is an inflammatory disease of the ducts which contain hair follicles and produce sebum (oil), and typically results in whiteheads, blackheads, and red angry pustules. It often has a very detrimental affect on psychological well-being and self-confidence.

Your concerns about the side-effects of antibiotics is understandable, and indeed there has been media coverage recently about the role the over-prescribing of antibiotics is having in the development of bacterial resistance. However, these days topical (ie applied to the skin) treatments for acne are much more effective, meaning that antibiotics should no longer be the first option used to tackle the condition. The mainstay of treatment is now retinoid creams and gels, of which there are several, including tretinoin, which is available at different concentrations on prescription. Other agents (such as benzoyl peroxide) can also be added into the treatment regime, and only in more severe cases would oral antibiotics be indicated. My own experience of treating with tretinoin is extremely positive, and I would encourage you to discuss this with your GP or skin doctor.