Drug-Induced Acne

Drug-induced acne is a clinical type of acne in which acne either develops, or is made worse, as a result of taking certain types of medication. Acne may be considered an acceptable side-effect of medication used to treat a serious medical condition, but in many cases a doctor will stop the medication causing acne and prescribe an alternative drug.

Diagnosis of Drug-Induced Acne

The diagnosis of drug-induced acne is usually reasonably straightforward, since there are only a limited number of types of drug for which acne is a recognised side effect. Clinical examination will reveal the presence of spots of the characteristic types found in acne, although there may well be a preponderance of one type of spot, usually papules. The distribution of spots in drug-induced acne may also be unusual, often being restricted to the trunk, rather than the preferential face, back, chest and genital distribution of spots typical in adolescent acne. Critical to a diagnosis of drug-induced acne is the patient's drug history, which must include details of all prescription, over-the-counter and alternative medicines taken by the patient. The presence of one of the recognised acne-inducing drugs should confirm a diagnosis of drug-induced acne. Indeed, in many cases the patient will have been warned when the drug was prescribed that acne was a possible side-effect and will have made the connection between the medication and the development of acne.

Causes of Drug-Induced Acne

A limited number of classes of drug are recognised as causing acne, making pre-existing acne worse or causing skin conditions which mimic acne:

Drug-Induced Acne Treatment

If you develop acne or an acne-like condition whilst taking medication, the correct course of action is to continue taking the medication as prescribed, but to seek an urgent appointment with the doctor who originally prescribed the medication. The doctor may decide to swap you to a different type of medication for the original condition. Alternatively, the doctor may decide to continue with the acne-inducing medication. In either case, the doctor will make a clinical assessment of the extent and severity of the acne and advise on the need for proactive acne treatment.