How Do I Use Trimethoprim for Acne?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2019
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Trimethoprim is an antibiotic that is normally prescribed for moderate to severe bacterial infections. The use of trimethoprim for acne is generally determined by a licensed medical dermatologist or doctor. If prescribed, it is best to first follow the recommended dosage and frequency as instructed by the doctor. A patient should also monitor the severity of any side effects and how his skin responds to the treatment within the first few months.

Doctors prescribe trimethoprim for acne when it does not respond to other antibiotics. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole is a more potent antibiotic than doxycycline or tetracycline. Antibiotics are prescribed when treating acne due to their ability to reduce the amount of inflammation and acne causing bacteria in the skin. Trimethoprim and other prescription antibiotics are not recommended for treating mild acne or acne that responds well to benzoyl peroxide.

In some cases, using trimethoprim for acne may be prescribed as a substitute for treatment with isotretinoin, which is strong, but somewhat risky. Depending upon the individual patient, topical tretinoin cream may be used alongside oral trimethoprim. The antibiotic is typically taken once or twice a day for at least a month. Some antibiotics must be taken with a meal to avoid stomach upset.


While using trimethoprim for acne it is important to not take more than the recommended dosage before consulting with a physician. One of the crucial aspects of using antibiotics as an acne treatment is to watch how the skin and body respond to the medicine. Visible improvements may take a few weeks to a month or slightly longer. Potential side effects, such as rashes and digestive problems, should be monitored closely.

If visible improvements are not seen within a reasonable amount of time or the acne seems to get worse, trimethoprim may not be a suitable treatment. The effectiveness of acne treatments can vary between individuals and it can also vary at different stages in one person's lifetime. For example, doxycycline may clear up a patient's acne in his teens, while a second course may have no effect in his late twenties. Severe acne may not respond to antibiotics alone or a patient may develop a resistance to a certain type of antibiotic.

Using trimethoprim for acne may reduce the amount of acne-causing bacteria in the skin, along with the severity of the skin's inflammation. The prescription will not stop the skin's hair follicles from becoming clogged or reduce the amount of oil the skin produces. While bacteria is one of the causes of acne, it is not the sole contributor, so antibiotic treatment may not offer complete relief from breakouts.


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Post 4

I am 40 and suffered from mild/moderate acne on back, chest and neck since age 13. It went during my time on combined pill (marvelon) but since I had to come off this 10 yrs ago, acne reappeared. In these last 10 years I have been prescribed several first-line antibiotics (doxycycline, tetracycline, lymocycline plus others), and topic gels/creams (azeleic acid, duac). Nothing worked until a hospital skin specialist prescribed Trimethoprim -- and joy! It worked a treat. I take 200mg twice a day. My skin started to clear after just one week. Three months on, I am so much better (not 100 percent spot free but I am happy to achieve just the odd spot now and then).

Post 3

My doctor put me on trimethoprim for acne as well, 300mg/day. But I could not take it because it turned out I'm allergic. I developed hives after my second day of use.

Post 2

@SarahGen-- Everyone seems to react to drugs a little bit differently so it's hard to say whether trimethoprim will work for you or not. You have to try it to find out.

I have gotten good results with trimethoprim however. I had very stubborn acne that refused to respond to topical and oral treatments. Trimethoprim doesn't seem to be a very popular treatment for acne but my doctor said that he has other patients on it for this reason.

My acne started clearing up soon after I started the antibiotic and I'm on a fairly low dose, just 200mg per day. Right now, after one and a half months of use, my skin is completely clear. I'm very pleased with the results and I think that trimethoprim is worth a try for acne.

Post 1

My doctor put me on doxycycline recently for my acne but it did not work. My acne has not improved at all. I called my doctor about it today and he asked me to make an appointment. He wants to switch me to trimethoprim to see if that will work better?

Is trimethoprim a good and effective antibiotics? Is anyone here on this medication for acne? Are there side effects? Would you recommend it?

I don't want to try every antibiotic out there, but at the same time, I need to do something about my acne.

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