Not all oral antibiotics work in the same way — some attack the cell membrane of bacteria, and others kill its metabolism. "How they work is not nearly as important as whether they are bactericidal or bacteriostatic," Dr. Schultz said. The former means that the medicine will kill bacteria, and the latter means that it will just stop it from spreading.
While both work to quell acne, the dermatologist recommends opting for an oral that is bactericidal. That's because once you go off of the medicine, your acne won't come back. If you take a bacteriostatic pill, it will clear your face during the time you take it, but your acne could flare back up once you go off it.
"Every oral medication has side effects."
The most common group of antibiotics is the tetracycline family, which has two main derivatives: minocycline (commonly known as Minocin) and doxycycline (brand name Doryx). Another old-school type of antibiotic is cephalosporin, which is sold under the brand names Keflex and Duricef. These, unlike the others, don't cause sun sensitization or an upset stomach. Be sure to bring up any other medications you are taking to your doctor, and be prepared to perhaps use another form of contraception while you're on an oral antibiotic. Also, it's important to keep in mind that antibiotics are not a long-term solution, as prolonged use can cause bacterial resistance. "Every oral medication has side effects," Dr. Schultz explained. "There are no medications without side effects, so you've got to balance: 'What's my upside, what's my downside?'"