Acne - Medication Side Effects

Stephanie McIntyre

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There are a host of medicinal treatments available for use in the treatment of acne. They are available in over the counter and prescription medications, for topical or oral use. Though many are effective at helping sufferers control their acne - there are sometimes side effects, and they are additional considerations to take into account when choosing an acne treatment.

Side effects range from redness and inflammation to allergic reactions. For most of those who use acne medications, these problems do not occur. But for a small percentage of the acne medication using population, these adverse effects do appear, and range from mild to very severe. Here are some of the potential side effects caused by acne medications.

Some acne products (like benzoyl peroxide) work by killing the bacteria that's active in clogged sebaceous glands, which leads to the infection (pain, redness, and swelling) that we call acne. This medicine dries up the sebum (oil) produced by these glands, and as a result can dry and irritate the skin. The more sensitive a person's skin is, the more severely it tends to be irritated - sometimes resulting in skin peeling as well.

In some cases these effects can be quite severe and include blistering, burning and crusting of the skin, skin and hair bleaching or darkening, or allergic reactions. For those who have existing skin problems such as sunburn or eczema, benzoyl peroxide-like medications can make matters worse. For people who use this medication and find it causes them problems of these sorts, a milder dose may be the answer.

Sometime the oral antibiotics prescribed for acne can cause problems such as irritating the gastrointestinal tract. Antibiotics can also cause other issues like sensitivity to light, yeast infections, diarrhea, rashes and occasionally, central nervous system problems. Probably the most noteworthy side effect that acne antibiotics can cause is to stop working when the bacteria it fights becomes resistant to it.

Some of the stronger acne medications used for severe acne have more extensive problems associated with them. Isotretinoin is an oral medication used for this purpose. It has a wide range of related side effects including dry skin, mouth, and nose; psychiatric problems such as depression and suicidal tendencies; and joint aches and photosensitivity. This is just a partial list of isotretinoin related side effects and an indication that caution should be used before it is prescribed and used.

By and large acne medications are safe and effective when used as directed or prescribed. For the small segment of the population who has a problem with one type or another, there are usually substitutes available - though sometime the answer is a smaller dose or milder form.

Stephanie McIntyre and Wendell Bryant are Internet developers. Visit their site at


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