Oral Acne Medication: Everything You Need to Know

Category: Drug Information


Posted on January 27, 2023

Scott is passionate about health and wellness, and enjoys writing on various topic surrounding these fields. Scott lives in Seattle and spends his free time restoring old furniture and playing pickleball with his friends.

Acne is one of the most common problems for teens and young adults. There are as many as 50 million cases of acne each year in the US alone.

However, just because it's common and often physically harmless doesn't mean that it isn't debilitating. Acne can severely harm our self confidence, belief in our appearance, cause anxiety, and lead to scarring.

Fortunately, treatments are only becoming better at treating mild to severe acne. Here's what you need to know about taking oral acne medication!

Do Oral Acne Medications Work?

Of course, this depends on your body's reaction to a specific medication. However, to understand how they work, we first need to understand what acne is.

Acne is an incredibly common skin condition, primarily affecting adolescents and young adults, but it can affect anybody. The condition causes red, irritating bumps on the skin due to a buildup of bacteria that usually isn't a problem.

While acne is most commonly associated with adolescence, it is indiscriminate. Around 50% of females in their 20s and 25% in their 40s have acne at some point, with similar results in males.

Moreover, acne can have several different causes. Typically, this includes a mix of genetic and environmental factors, including hormonal imbalances, dry or oily skin, and certain genetic factors.

With that in mind, it's easy to understand the idea behind oral medication. Instead of addressing the issue topically, oral medications seek to address the underlying causes. Here's what you need to know.

How Do Acne Medications Work?

The answer depends on the medication. Some medications may seek to address bacterial infections on your skin, while some may attempt to reduce oil production. Depending on the prescription from your doctor and the suspected cause of your acne, you may receive a different medication.

For example, medication addressing hormone imbalances may help improve your acne symptoms. Again, the idea is to address the root cause, not limit the symptoms.

Consequently, a teenage female with acne will likely need to address their hormone balances, whereas a 40-year old male with acne may only need to reduce bacterial infections. Regardless of the cause, let's talk about potential solutions.

Oral Acne Antibiotic Medication Options

If you're new to acne medications, we have you covered. Here's a helpful oral acne medication guide, and you can upload your Rx to order online.

Vibramycin (Doxycycline Hyclate)

Vibramycin is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections and reduce inflammation. For many people with acne, these are significant causes of their symptoms.

Moreover, Vibramycin is among a class of medications known as tetracyclines. It's a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which means it works against a wide range of bacteria, including ones known to cause acne flare-ups.

Generally speaking, Vibramycin is used to treat moderate to severe cases of acne or acne that isn't improving with other treatment methods. It's best to only use these medications once daily for no longer than three to four months.

Common side effects include diarrhea, itching of the rectum or vagina, and sore mouth. If you experience reactions or serious side effects, contact your doctor immediately. 

Zithromax (Azithromycin)

ZITHROMAX is a commonly used antibiotic medicine used to treat mild to moderate infections by certain microorganisms in adults. These include bronchitis, certain types of skin infections, strep throat, tonsilitis, certain genitourinary infections, and pneumonia.

However, it is now also being used as an acne medication to help reduce bacterial infections in the skin that may lead to or exacerbate acne symptoms.

Typically, the most common dosage for this medicine is 500mg for three days a week or 10 days for 12 weeks. Studies from trials at this dosage and schedule have shown promising results for treating acne vulgaris. 

Some common side effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache

If you experience these side effects or miss a dose, contact your doctor and ask what to do. Do not double-dose with Zithromax.

Bactrim (Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole)

Used to treat moderate to severe inflammatory acne, Bactrim is another antibiotic and anti-inflammatory, similar to Vibramycin. Bactrim is effective at reducing your body's production of folate, which can help limit bacterial growth, kill existing bacteria, and slow or stop the production of pimples.

Moreover, the recommended dose of Bactrim is 250 to 375mg twice daily or TMP 100mg twice daily. This regimen is considered quite safe and shows no adverse systemic effects within 18 months of treatment in a study of 22 patients.

While there were no recorded systemic risks, no medication comes without side effects. Some side effects of Bactrim include:

  • Black or clay-colored stools
  • Blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • Changes in skin color
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Hoarseness
  • General tiredness or weakness
  • Itching or skin rash.

Again, if you experience any serious side effects while taking Bactrim, contact your doctor right away before stopping.

Oral Acne Contraceptive Medications

Now that we know some antibiotic options for people with moderate to severe acne, let's talk about contraceptive options for females. Here are the most common medications used to treat acne by regulating hormones.

Yaz (Drospirenone/Dthinyl Estradiol)

Yaz is a progestin and estrogen. This is ideal for maintaining the hormone balance in female bodies over the age of 14 for birth control, menstrual regulation, and acne reduction. The combination of the progestin and estrogen is essential as an acne medication, as some birth control medications may worsen acne symptoms.

Like all birth control medicines, there are many potential side effects, including:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Bloating
  • Back pain
  • Breast pain, tenderness, or swelling
  • Changes in interest in sexual activity
  • Darkening of facial skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Sleep disruption
  • Vomiting

Of course, you may not experience any of these. If you do, contact your doctor. Only stop taking the medication if the side effects are severe, especially if they are painful, but contact your doctor first. 

Make sure you tell your doctor about any medications or health conditions prior to taking Yaz. There are potential negative interactions with other medications.

Estrostep (Ethinyl Estradiol and Norethindrone)

Estrostep is another birth control medication combining estrogen with a progestin. In this case, the progestin is norethindrone.

Like Yaz, Estrostep works to lower testosterone levels and regulate hormones in your body for females ages 14 and older. Also like Yaz, you should not stop taking the medication until you consult with your physician, and you need to take the medication daily as recommended by your prescription. Possible side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Spotting between periods
  • Swelling of ankles or feet
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness

There are other potential side effects. Again, contact your doctor, but don't stop taking Estrostep unless cleared to do so.

Ortho Tri-Cyclen (Ethinyl Estradiol and Norgestimate)

This is likely the most common birth control used to treat acne, as it is also combined with the progestin (norgestimate). It's a time-tested birth control pill used for decades, but it has only recently been used as an acne treatment.

One of the most common side effects is worsening acne symptoms, which suggests that Ortho Tri-Cyclen is not as effective in some as it is for others. Still, if you want to try a contraceptive approach, it's worth discussing with your doctor. Common side effects include:

  • Weight change
  • Changes in mood
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of feet and ankles

While these are the most common, there are plenty of other potential side effects. If you experience any, talk to your doctor immediately before stopping your regimen.


How to Choose an Oral Acne Medication

Most people with acne have tried plenty of strategies to treat or mitigate their acne. This includes topical creams, facewashes, moisturizers, and so many other products or means. Nevertheless, acne may still persist.

While you can't walk up to the aisle and choose a prescription medication that you want to try, you may want to consider what's right for you. Also, some of these treatments are sex- and age-specific, which can rule them out for certain patients.

However, you can still do some research on medications that may help and talk to your doctor about oral acne medication. If you find one that suits your needs, talk to your doctor about a prescription.

From there, you can easily order your medication online and have it shipped right to your door at discount prices. Believe it or not, our medications are up to 80% cheaper than you could find it in the US!

Clear Your Skin (and Your Mind) Today

Now that you know the best types of oral acne medication, you can choose what works for you. So, meet with your doctor today to find out which medication is right for you!

From there, keep reading our blog for our latest health and wellness tips, and don't hesitate to contact us to have your medication delivered right to your door!

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