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Acne Sufferers are Taking Antibiotics for too Long, Study Finds

Update Date: Oct 30, 2015 03:13 PM EDT
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People suffering with severe acne often remain on antibiotics for too long, a new study concluded.

For this research, the team headed by Dr. Seth Orlow, the chair of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, analyzed the medical records on 137 patients who were over 12-years-old. The patients were all being treated for severe acne between 2005 and 2014 at the medical center.

The researchers found that on average, patients remained on antibiotic treatment for 11 months before doctors determined that the antibiotics were not effective at treating acne. The patients were then often switched to acne-treating drug, Accutane (isotretinoin).

The researchers also found that on average, patients started taking Accutane roughly six months after their doctors had mentioned it. Th researchers argued that the delay could be due to Accutane's side effects, which include birth defects and depression.

"Our study suggests that physicians need to recognize within weeks, not months, when patients are failing to respond to antibiotic therapy in cases of severe acne," Orlow said.

Two dermatologists agreed with Orlow's conclusions. They added that doctors should discuss Accutane with their patients earlier on.

"Though the risks of side effects of isotretinoin are real, the potential side effects of long-term antibiotic use are often overlooked and can also be serious," Dr. Meera Sivendran, instructor in dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, commented. "It's important to start the discussion on isotretinoin early in your relationship with the patient."

Dr. Katy Burris, a dermatologist at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y stated that stopping ineffective antibiotic treatment earlier on can prevent antibiotic overexposure, which is linked to bacterial resistance, and potential scarring.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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