According to a study published Online First by Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, taking oral antibiotics to treat acne seems to be linked to reported symptoms of pharyngitis (sore throat).
The investigators explain "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 colleagues with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, carried out two concurrent investigations (a cross-sectional investigation and a longitudinal study) in order to analyze the connection between antibiotics for acne treatment and pharyngitis.
In addition they attempted to find an association between oral antibiotics and colonization rates of group A streptococcus (GAS; form of bacteria responsible for most cases of streptococcal illness) since prior investigations demonstrated higher rates of GAS to be associated with oral antibiotics.
In both investigations, participants included college students. Participants were swabbed for culture, had a visual examination for acne and were asked to fill out a self-administered survey form.
In the cross-section investigation, they discovered that:
- In the past 30 days, 10 out of 15 participants receiving oral antibiotics for acne treatment reported an episode of pharyngitis.
- 47 of 130 participants who had acne but did not take oral antibiotics reported an episode of pharyngitis in the last 30 days.
- 82 (32.7%) of 251 participants not receiving oral antibiotics reported an episode of pharyngitis in the previous month.
- 3 out of 145 participants with acne (2.1%) were discovered to be colonized with GAS, although none of the 3 students were taking oral antibiotics.
Furthermore, no link to pharyngitis was reported for participants who used topical antibiotics for acne treatment, they discovered that less that 1% of students were colonized by GAS, suggesting that it is not connected with pharyngitis.
The investigators conclude:
"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 Grace Rattue