Using antibiotics to treat acne for long periods may double the risk of throat infections, a study says.
Acne antibiotics can increase the risk of throat infections, a study says
The University of Pennsylvania team found using antibiotics for more than six weeks increased the chance of a range of infections within a year.
Long-term use of antibiotics is a standard and commonly-used treatment for people with severe acne.
A senior British GP acknowledged the risk of infection but said the findings were not likely to alter practice.
The US researchers used a UK medical database to compare the number of upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold, sore throat, tonsillitis and laryngitis, in people with acne taking antibiotics compared to those not taking the drugs.
Out of 118,496 people with acne surveyed, 72% received either topical or oral antibiotics for more than six weeks to treat their condition, the Archives of Dermatology reported.
Within the first year, 15% of patients with acne suffered at least one infection. The odds of an infection developing in someone on antibiotics were about 2.15 times greater than in those not on the drugs.
Antibiotics increase the risk of infection by replacing "good" bacteria in the throat.
Lead researcher Dr David Margolis said: "The true clinical importance of our findings, in which patients and practitioners need to balance the risk of these infections with the benefits that patients with acne will receive from this therapy, will require further investigation."
Peter Swinyard, a member of the British Medical Association's GPs committee, said the risk was known, but would not change practice in the UK as the benefits of using antibiotics outweighed the negatives.
"Acne can be a major problem for teenagers and women. It can lead to breakdowns in relationships and loss of confidence.
"It is about time we acknowledged how serious it can be. Yes, there is a risk of infection, but that does not mean we should stop using antibiotics.
"However, personally, I have not noticed a particular problem with infections."