Oral medications

For mild to moderate acne, topical treatments are often chosen first by the doctor, based on previous treatment, type of acne, side effects, etc. When topical treatments are not sufficient the doctor may prescribe oral medications.

Oral antibiotics

What are the most common oral antibiotics?

The most common oral antibiotics for moderate to severe acne are Tetracyclines, which include the second generation such as Doxycycline or Minocycline.

How do antibiotics work to treat acne?

The role of antibiotics is to eliminate bacteria (eg acne) from the body and to prevent it from developing. This can help with inflammatory acne that causes redness and discomfort.

What are the side effects?

Minor side effects common with antibiotics are nausea and vomiting, abdominal discomfort, headache and diarrhea. As your body adapts to treatment, most of these side effects may go away. It is important to take medication after eating or with food to better prevent these side effects. These treatments are strongly contraindicated in pregnancy, so it is important to inform your health care provider if you are pregnant or are planning on becoming pregnant.

How long does it take to see an effect?

Treating acne requires patience, and since antibiotics are prescribed for moderate to severe acne, it takes at least 4 weeks to see an improvement. Less time maybe be needed if acne is less severe. The treatment should be taken for several weeks and in combination with other topical treatments.


Isotretinoin is one of the most popular and effective oral medications for severe acne, mainly the nodular type. This molecule is better known as Accutane. Many of our clients call it the magic drug, because they get great results. Isotretinine is a form of vitamin A, and has multiple functions such as reducing the amount of sebum released by the sebaceous glands, helping rejuvenate the skin follicle, preventing formation of comedones, reducing inflammation, and can also help with mild acne scars.

What are the side effects of Accutane?

Like all drugs seen so far, Accutane also has some common side effects. These can include: dry skin and lips, headaches, mild nosebleeds, joint pain and stiffness.

For dryness, it is recommended that patients moisturize their skin and lips often with an emollient such as Vaseline or Aquaphor. It is sometimes possible that other, much less common side effects may occur, such as mood changes, gastrointestinal problems, abnormal headaches or migraines etc. In such a case it is very important to notify your health care provider as soon as this occurs.

How long does the treatment take?

Treatment with Isotretinoin, or Accutane, may take several months. It is therefore a personal commitment that you make for the good of your skin! Regular follow-ups with the specialist as well as frequent laboratory tests will be necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment and the ability of your body to tolerate this drug. This effective but powerful drug requires careful medical monitoring and our doctors dedicated in offering you professional and responsible care.

Treating with Contraceptives

Finally, some oral contraceptives may also help to improve some cases of moderate acne. Some young women, for convenience, will easily opt for Alesse or Tricyclen or Diane-35, which are approved as acne treatment, and will see an improvement in severity. However, certain criteria must be respected before your doctor will prescribe such contraceptives. The age and smoking associated with oral contraceptives can pose health risks, especially at the cardiovascular level.