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6 Reasons Why Bactarim For Acne Is A Bad Idea

In the world of acne treatment, numerous options exist, ranging from benzoyl peroxide, oral antibiotics, and topical retinoids to birth control pills. But, there's one drug that seems to be widely used, and that's Bactrim.

Also known as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, this antibiotic has been utilized in treating acne. But is it really a good idea to use Bactrim for acne? This comprehensive blog post presents six reasons that might make you think twice about using Bactrim as your preferred acne treatment.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Takes-Aways:

  • While effective in treating severe acne, Bactrim may contribute to antibiotic resistance and potentially lead to severe side effects, such as Drug Hypersensitivity Syndrome and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.

  • Long-term usage of Bactrim for acne can lead to undesirable conditions such as Gram-Negative Folliculitis and antibiotic resistance.

  • Dietary habits, like the consumption of dairy products, can impact the effectiveness of Bactrim, and alternative antibiotics like tetracycline, erythromycin, and minocycline also carry their own risks.

  • Exposed Skin Care is a beneficial alternative for acne treatment that uses a blend of scientific and natural ingredients to effectively manage acne with a lower risk of side effects than traditional drug-based treatments.

Macro photo of hand holding white pill medical

1. Increased Risk of Antibiotic Resistance

Bactrim, like any antibiotic, has a risk of contributing to antibiotic resistance. This issue represents a significant challenge in clinical dermatology and broader healthcare, as bacteria become resistant to the drugs used to treat them.

How Does Antibiotic Resistance Happen?

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria mutate and can survive or grow despite the presence of antibiotics. Prolonged use of oral antibiotics like Bactrim for acne treatment might encourage the development of resistant strains of bacteria, including Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria primarily responsible for acne vulgaris.

The Impact of Antibiotic Resistance in Acne Treatment

This resistance to antibiotics doesn't only affect the treatment of acne. Over time, it can lead to bacteria resistant to an entire class of antibiotics, such as sulfa drugs. This resistance can lead to a decrease in the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment in managing severe acne and other infections.

2. Potential for Severe Side Effects

A drug rash is one of the most common side effects of using Bactrim for acne. This reaction can vary in severity from a minor irritation to a severe condition like Stevens-Johnson Syndrome or Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis.

Additionally, Bactrim carries a risk of other systemic symptoms such as stomach upset, sore throat, and even serious conditions like Drug Hypersensitivity Syndrome (DRESS Syndrome) or Aseptic Meningitis.

Male shin with redness and itchy rash on skin

The most common side effects include:

  • Stomach upset

  • Skin rash

  • Sore throat

Moreover, several reports exist about serious adverse reactions, such as:

  • Drug Hypersensitivity Syndrome (DRESS Syndrome)

  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

  • Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis

3. Interaction with Other Medications and Birth Control Pills

Bactrim, like many drugs, can interact with other medications. This medication can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills, potentially leading to unwanted pregnancy. Thus, it's vital to consider all medications you currently take before starting a daily dose of Bactrim for acne.

4. Risk of Pregnancy Category D Classification

Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole falls under Pregnancy Category D, implying potential risk to the fetus when taken by pregnant women. It has been associated with birth defects, so it's not recommended for use in pregnancy. Consider other acne treatment options if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

5. Overreliance on Antibiotics in Acne Treatment

Although Bactrim has been used to treat acne, it's crucial to remember that antibiotics are not the only treatment option available. A wide range of treatments, including benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics, and topical retinoids, can clear acne. Overreliance on oral antibiotic treatment, like Bactrim, may overshadow other effective treatment alternatives.

Mature woman having multiple antibiotic pills

6. Risk of Gram-Negative Folliculitis

Long-term use of antibiotics, including Bactrim, may lead to a condition called Gram-Negative Folliculitis. A rash of small, inflamed, pus-filled blisters characterizes this condition. While rare, this condition can worsen acne flares, making the skin condition harder to treat.

Dietary Considerations When Taking Bactrim

There are several dietary considerations when using Bactrim as an acne treatment. The drug can interact with certain foods, potentially leading to increased side effects or decreased efficacy. One such food group that can influence Bactrim's effectiveness is dairy products.

How Dairy Products Interact with Bactrim

According to several reports, dairy products are rich in calcium, which may bind to Bactrim in the stomach and make it less effective. Therefore, avoiding taking Bactrim alongside large amounts of dairy products is advised. Some suggestions include the following:

  • Avoid consuming dairy products close to the time you take your Bactrim dose.

  • Choose non-dairy alternatives when possible.

  • If dairy cannot be avoided, try to limit consumption and monitor your acne for any changes.

Other Dietary Considerations

In addition to dairy products, there are other dietary considerations for patients on Bactrim.

  • Patients should stay well hydrated to help prevent some of the drug's most common side effects, such as upset stomach and dizziness.

  • Bactrim may increase sensitivity to sunlight. Therefore, foods rich in antioxidants (like berries, nuts, and vegetables) can help to mitigate potential skin damage.

A woman in a kitchen preparing a salad dish with berries and vegetables

Evaluating Alternative Antibiotics for Acne Treatment

While Bactrim may be a commonly prescribed drug for acne treatment, it's not the only option available. Other antibiotics, such as tetracycline, erythromycin, and minocycline, also play a role in acne management. However, like any drug, these medications also carry risks.

Tetracycline, Erythromycin, and Minocycline

According to the Cochrane Database Syst Rev, tetracycline has been a popular choice for dermatologists for decades. It works by reducing bacteria and fighting inflammation. However, it may cause side effects like upset stomach, dizziness, and increased sensitivity to sunlight.

Erythromycin is a topical antibiotic, which, while effective, may lead to bacterial resistance. It's often combined with benzoyl peroxide to reduce this risk.

Minocycline, another oral antibiotic, is highly effective against the bacteria responsible for acne. However, it can lead to vertigo, discoloration of the skin, and auto-immune disorders.

Pills health medication antibiotics doctor

Considering the Risks and Benefits

When considering any of these drugs for acne treatment, patients must weigh the potential benefits against the risks.

  • Remember that all antibiotics can contribute to bacterial resistance.

  • Consider potential side effects. Common side effects of these antibiotics include upset stomach, dizziness, and photosensitivity.

  • Remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Each individual's reaction to medications is unique, and treatment effectiveness can vary widely.

In conclusion, while Bactrim and other antibiotics can play a role in acne treatment, they must be used responsibly and with other management strategies to reduce potential risks.

The Benefits of Exposed Skin Care for Acne Treatment

Exposed Skin Care is a popular alternative for acne patients seeking a more natural treatment approach. Unlike traditional acne drugs, its products combine science-based active ingredients with natural extracts, reducing the risk of side effects common with some acne medications.

Exposed Skin Care Basic Kit

The benefits of this treatment option include:

  • Reduced Risk of Infections: The products in this line, such as the Facial Cleanser and Clearing Tonic, contain salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide that help prevent acne-causing bacterial infections.

  • Lowered Drug Interactions: Since Exposed Skin Care products are topical and largely natural, they are less likely to interact with other drugs or medications a patient may be taking.

  • Soothing Natural Ingredients: The blend of natural extracts such as green tea, aloe vera, and passion flower soothes the skin, reducing inflammation and promoting healing.

  • Improved Skin Health: Regular use can lead to clearer skin, reduced pore size, and overall improved skin health.

Ultimately, Exposed Skin Care provides a well-rounded approach to managing acne, offering a lower-risk alternative to more harsh drug-based treatments. It’s a valuable tool in the fight against acne, worth considering for anyone managing this common skin condition.


While Bactrim has shown efficacy in treating severe acne, it is crucial to consider the potential risks and drawbacks associated with its usage. These include contributing to antibiotic resistance, causing serious side effects, and possibly interacting with certain dietary components like dairy products.

Other antibiotics, such as tetracycline, erythromycin, and minocycline, have distinct pros and cons for acne treatment. However, a promising alternative is using products like Exposed Skin Care, combining science-based active ingredients with natural extracts.

This approach offers a balanced, less risk-laden pathway toward managing acne effectively. Ultimately, evaluating all potential treatments and considering their benefits and drawbacks is essential to find the best fit for each individual's unique skin and health needs.


Is Bactrim good for acne?

While Bactrim can effectively treat acne, there are potential risks, including antibiotic resistance and side effects, to consider. It's best to explore other options before relying solely on Bactrim.

How long should you take Bactrim for acne?

Bactrim is typically prescribed for three to four months. However, the duration may vary depending on the severity of acne and the patient's response to the medication.

What is the best antibiotic for acne breakout?

Other than Bactrim, antibiotics such as doxycycline, tetracycline, erythromycin, and minocycline have been used to treat acne. However, the best antibiotic depends on the patient's condition and treatment response.

Will acne come back after Bactrim?

Yes, in many cases, acne can come back after stopping Bactrim. Bactrim, like other antibiotics, doesn't address the underlying cause of acne, such as overactive sebaceous glands or hormonal imbalances.