Patients with acne who are prescribed oral antibiotics have a higher chance of developing pharyngitis (sore throat) symptoms than those who are not, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, reported in Archives of Dermatology today. Pharyngitis means inflammation of the pharynx, causing sore throat.
The researchers explained as background information to the article:
"Many inconsistent concerns have been voiced about the safety of long-term use of antibiotics. Because of the high prevalence of acne and the frequent use of antibiotics to control acne, individuals undergoing therapy to treat their acne are an ideal group in which to study the effects of long-term antibiotic use."
David J. Margolis, M.D., Ph.D., and team carried out two studies - a longitudinal and a cross-sectional study - to determine whether antibiotic usage, specifically oral antibiotics, for acne treatment might be linked to pharyngitis. They also sought to find out whether oral antibiotics might be associated with group A streptococcus, a type of bacterium that causes most streptococcal illnesses. (GAS = Group A Streptococcus). Prior studies had demonstrated an association between oral antibiotic usage and higher GAS rates.
Both of the studies they assessed included college students. The participants had to complete a questionnaire, they were visually examined for signs of acne, and were swabbed for culture.
The Cross-Sectional StudyThe researchers found:
- 15 students were receiving oral antibiotics for acne. 10 (66.6%) of them said they had an episode of pharyngitis during the previous 30 days.
- 130 students had acne but were not taking oral antibiotics. 47 of them said they had had an episode of pharyngitis during the previous 30 days.
- When they combined all the 251 participants not taking oral antibiotics, 32.7% (82) said they had had an episode of pharyngitis during the previous 30 days. 2.1% (3) of the 145 with acne were colonized with GAS, but none of them had been taking antibiotics.
The Longitudinal StudyThis study involved 358 female and 218 male students. Below are some data from the study:
- 36 (6.2%) of them took oral antibiotics for acne while the study was underway.
11.3% of them reported symptoms of pharyngitis.
- 96 (16.6%) of them took topical (medication you apply to skin) antibiotics for acne while the study was underway.
3.3% of them reported symptoms of pharyngitis. None of these participants were colonized by GAS.
"Our studies show that the odds of developing self-reported pharyngitis is more than three times baseline in patients receiving oral antibiotics for acne vs. the odds for those who are not receiving oral antibiotics. The true clinical importance of these findings needs to be evaluated further by prospective studies."
Written by Christian Nordqvist