Ineffective acne treatments lead to antibiotic resistance, a study published on October 30 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology has shown.
Researchers analyzed patient data recorded between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2014. The information had been provided by the dermatology section of Langone Medical Center, affiliated with New York University.
All of the 137 subjects suffered from severe cystic acne, and were eventually advised to take isotretinoin, a powerful pharmaceutical drug marketed by Hoffman-La Roche as Accutane.
Normally, this medicine is usually prescribed as a last resort solution, after individuals struggling to combat skin problems resort to a wide array of treatments, including gels, washes, creams and eventually oral antibiotics.
Researchers sought to investigate exactly how extensive the use of antibiotics among acne patients is, and the results were quite distressing.
It was determined that all of the subjects who had been required to take Accutane had previously used antimicrobials, for an average period of 331.3 days.
In fact, just 15.3% took antibiotics for 3 months or less, while a third of the respondents prolonged the treatment for at least a year or more. This extended use was especially common for those who had changed their practitioner or their medical center while the treatment was still underway.
The findings are disturbing, because the Global Alliance to Improve Acne Outcomes clearly specifies that antibiotics taken against skin problems should only be taken for a maximum period of 3 months.
Therefore, it appears that people in real life actually take these pills 4 times longer than they should, which can result in a string of negative consequences that greatly surpass the potential benefits of such treatments.
Researchers point out that dermatologists should be more careful when recommending antibiotics to their patients.
According to estimations, specialists belonging to this branch of medicine represent just 1% of the doctors in the United States, and yet they hand out around 4.9% of the antibiotic prescriptions that are issued on a yearly basis.
Also, as study authors have noted, in fact people should be more informed regarding the positive impact of isotretinoin, which tends to be avoided for too long, and isn’t in fact as risky as expected.
There are indeed limitations related to this medicine, such as the fact that it can’t be used by pregnant women, because it can result in birth defects. That is why precautions must be taken, such as producing 2 negative pregnancy tests before taking this drug, and employing 2 types of birth control during treatment.
Moreover, there are indeed side effects associated with it, some of which are rather insignificant, such as dry skin, while others are extremely serious, like the presence of suicidal thoughts.
However, despite these risks, taking Accutane is actually preferable to using oral antimicrobials for an exaggerated amount of time. By opting for the latter, patients are more exposed to dangerous super-bugs, which can no longer be combated with regular treatments.
Antibiotic resistance has become an increasingly more life-threatening issue lately, resulting in 23,000 deaths every year. This occurs precisely because too many people take such pills to treat even minor health issues, instead of using other types of drugs which can be just as effective.
Therefore, it is recommended to take isotretinoin sooner rather than later, when it comes to severe acne cases which appear unlikely to be resolved otherwise. Stubbornly ingesting antibiotics for too long, despite not witnessing any improvement in skin condition causes more harm than good, experts warn.
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