Antibiotic treatments for acne can cause resistance to the treatment, in patients and their close contacts.
Latest surveys show that after six years, 65 per cent of acne patients receiving topical and oral treatments for the condition will develop a resistance to the antibiotics. Skin swabs, taken from 3,201 acne patients attending dermatology clinics between 1991-97 by Anne Eady and colleagues of the Skin Research Centre at Leeds University, showed evidence of the antibiotic resistant bacteria Propioni bacterium acnes.
The Leeds study group found that antibiotics and resistant bacteria can be spread through touch. A 1996 report stated that a significantly higher proportion of siblings and close contacts of patients on long term antibiotic treatment carried resistant strains of staphylococci on their skins compared with the control group.
The group suggests that doctors only prescribe antibiotics when absolutely necessary and that treatment courses be kept short (Lancet, 1998; 351: 422).