Which oral antibiotics are best for acne?
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Doxycycline is effective (strength of recommendation [SOR]: B, randomized controlled trial) and the antibiotic of choice (SOR: C, expert opinion) for moderate to severe inflammatory acne requiring oral treatment. Limiting side effects include photosensitivity and gastrointestinal (GI) disturbance. Other members of the tetracycline family are considered second-line agents because of their side-effect profile and are contraindicated in pregnancy and for children younger than 12 years (SOR: A, meta-analysis, and C, expert opinion). For these patients, erythromycin is effective and better studied than azithromycin (SOR: C, expert opinion). Otherwise, emerging resistance and GI disturbances make erythromycin a third-line treatment. The use of oral antibiotics should be limited to moderate to severe inflammatory acne unresponsive to topical therapies, including retinoids and antibiotics (SOR: C, expert opinion). Oral antibiotics should be used for at least 6 to 8 weeks and discontinued after 12 to 18 weeks of therapy (SOR: C, expert opinion).
Journal of Family Practice, 60(5) 2011: 290-292.