Acne Treatment Review Erythromycin

Erythromycin for acne is available as either topical medications or oral medications. As topical acne medications, erythromycin is available as gels, pledgets (swabs), ointment or solutions to apply on the skin.  Topical antibiotics work on the skin to clear acne. However, for deep-seated acne, systematic erythromycin taken orally works better for it can penetrate the skin and act directly on the sebaceous glands.

Oral antibiotics are used mainly for severe acne that does not respond to topical medications. The choice of which route to take really depends on the doctor, for systematic erythromycin causes more side effects than topical erythromycin.   When oral erythromycin is prescribed, it is generally combined with topical treatments. However, tetracycline is the more commonly used oral antibiotic while erythromycin is mostly recommended as a topical medication in fighting acne.

How should Erythromycin be used?

Erythromycin for acne is available as pads, jelly, gels or swabs. The affected area has to be washed first and dried with a soft towel. Spread a thin film over the affected area. You need not rub it vigorously into the skin. Do not use the medicine on the eyes, mouth or nose. Wash your hands carefully after applying the medicine. Throw away any pads or pledgets used.

Usually topical erythromycin will be prescribed for 6-8 weeks.  Doctors could start with a 4% concentration erythromycin ointment for a few weeks. If improvement is seen, this can be reduced to a 2% concentration. The few side effects will disappear in a few days. If erythromycin solution is prescribed, just use the applicator that comes with it and spread the medicine on affected areas. The medicine dries quickly and kills bacteria inside the pustules.

Benefits of using erythromycin acne

Topical erythromycin for acne works by killing P.acnes bacteria. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. It is a main stay Erythromycin for acnetreatment for mild or moderately severe acne. When combined with benzoyl peroxide, it can be a very effective treatment regimen for the patient gets the benefits of two anti-microbial agents. Use the medication as directed.   This medication can be used by teenagers and adults.

Erythromycin for acne is considered a safer option over other antibiotics for it produces fewer side effects and it is gentler. Its anti-inflammatory properties ensure it quickly reduces redness and itchiness caused by acne. When taken orally, erythromycin acts by reaching into hair follicles and killing P.acnes. It also controls pustules in acne. 

Limitations and Side effects of erythromycin for acne


Topical erythromycin can cause skin dryness and irritation. If oral antibiotics are prescribed for severe acne, it can cause gastric problems. If oral erythromycin is given for long periods, the P.acnes bacteria can develop resistance to the medication and acne outbreaks may no longer be controlled. At this time alternative medications will be prescribed.

Side effects

The following are some of the possible side effects of erythromycin for acne:

  • Skin rash
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Peeling and dryness of skin
  • Tenderness
  • Burning or stinging sensation
  • Irritation to the eyes

Always inform your doctor if you experience these or any other side effects.


Inform your doctor about all other medications – prescription, herbal, vitamins, and supplements – you are taking. Some of these may react adversely when combined with erythromycin. Other products like harsh cleansers and makeup can also cause irritation.  
Anyone who has had a prior allergic reaction to erythromycin, is pregnant or breastfeeding, has liver diseases, stomach problems, yellowing of the eyes or skin or colitis, or has had recent surgery must inform their doctor.

When taking erythromycin orally, make sure you take it an hour prior to meals or two hours after meals. Do not take it with carbonated drinks or fruit juices. Your doctor will give precise instructions on how to use both topical and oral erythromycin.  Do not let anyone else take your medication.   Use erythromycin exactly as instructed to decrease bacterial resistance that can occur with improper usage.

Drug interaction

Inform your doctor about all medications you are taking for they will know if erythromycin reacts adversely with any of them. In case of an accidental overdose or severe allergic reaction, rush to the hospital at once.


All medications must be kept in their respective packaging away from heat and light and out of children’s reach. Capsules and tablets must be stored at room temperature and way from excess moisture and heat. Liquid medicines can be kept in the refrigerator. All medications must be thrown away after use or after the expiry date.


Since acne is caused by bacteria, erythromycin is an effective medication for it possesses both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Combined with the fact that the side effects are few and disappear usually within a few days, erythromycin for acne is a popular topical prescription medication.