At some point in their lives, up to 90 percent of teenagers and young adults battle acne.
New evidence suggests that antibiotics commonly prescribed to help control severe breakouts may lead to inflammatory bowel disease.
According to a study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, the new study adds to existing concerns about the gastrointestinal risks associated with popular acne treatments. The largest source of concern to date has been Accutane, a widely-used acne medication that has been heavily linked to inflammatory bowel disease.
To date, thousands of patients have filed an Accutane lawsuit against the manufacturer of the drug, alleging they developed serious gastrointestinal problems after taking the medication.
Previous studies have suggested that the acne drug isotretinoin, known commonly by the brand name Accutane, might be the cause of inflammatory bowel disease in a small number of patients being treated for severe acne.
After studying the medical records of more than 94,000 patients they determined the long term use of antibiotics appeared to double the risk.
During the study, Dr. Margolis and other researchers at the University of Pennsylvania examined the medical history of more than 94,000 teenagers and young adults in the United Kingdom who were diagnosed with acne over a period of eight years, beginning in 1998.
The results showed that patients who underwent extensive treatment with antibiotics were twice as likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease as other patients. Patients taking a drug from the tetracycline family known as doxycycline showed the greatest increase in risk.
But the report in the American Journal of Gastroenterology also notes the risk for bowel problems could be related to the biology of severe acne itself and not treatment.
Drugs from the tetracycline family are the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for the treatment of severe acne.
The researchers looked at the medical records of more than 94,000 British teenagers and young adults diagnosed with acne between 1998 and 2006.