Prudent Use of Antibiotics Important in Acne Treatment

January 22, 2024

When acne strikes, our typical response is to reach for antibiotics. However, relying on antibiotics for an extended period can present challenges, as bacteria can develop resistance, compromising the effectiveness of the treatment.
A group of researchers from INTI International University conducted a study on treating acne vulgaris and achieving healthy, glowing skin. Their research, “Identification and Antibiotic Susceptibility Profiles of Anaerobic Bacteria Isolated from Patients with Acne Vulgaris,” aimed to determine the effectiveness of antibiotics in fighting bacteria that cause acne.

The research was centred around the bacteria on people’s skin, specifically those that usually help maintain healthy skin but can also cause acne. Although antibiotics are commonly used to treat acne, their prolonged or improper use can cause bacterial resistance, reducing the effectiveness of the treatment.

Professor Dr Geetha Subramaniam, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences (FHLS) at INTI International University, finds this research crucial, especially in Malaysia, where limited investigations have explored how bacteria in acne respond to antibiotics.

Professor Dr Geetha Subramaniam, the Dean of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences (FHLS), has highlighted the significance of this study. She said, “This research is crucial, especially in Malaysia, where there has been limited investigation into how bacteria in acne respond to antibiotics. By understanding this, doctors can prescribe the right medication and raise awareness about the prudent use of antibiotics for treating acne.”

She added, “Despite the prevalence of acne vulgaris in Malaysia, there’s a significant gap in evaluating antibiotic resistance patterns of skin bacteria.”

The research team collected samples from 50 individuals with acne and grew the bacteria in a laboratory to conduct their research. They examined the reactions of the bacteria to various antibiotics and found that many responded well to all antibiotics. However, some bacteria resisted specific antibiotics, such as clindamycin, erythromycin, and tetracycline.

The researchers found that S. epidermidis was the main bacterium in acne samples, followed by S. aureus. Surprisingly, most of these bacteria showed no resistance to the antibiotics tested, which is different from what other studies have found. This indicates that if doctors prescribe antibiotics carefully and patients follow instructions, the risk of bacteria developing resistance can be reduced.

Benzoyl peroxide, a non-antibiotic treatment, has been found to help keep resistance levels low. On the other hand, resistance has been noticed against antibiotics such as clindamycin and erythromycin. This underlines the importance of careful use of antibiotics to prevent the development of resistant bacteria. Doctors must exercise caution when prescribing antibiotics and consider alternative treatments for acne to ensure effective and sustainable management.

(From left) Professor Dr Wong Ling Shing, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, and Lalita Ambigai Sivasamugham, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, both from INTI International University. They collaborated on the research paper titled ‘Identification and antibiotic susceptibility profiles of anaerobic bacteria isolated from patients with acne vulgaris.