In May 2001, a Swedish researcher named Carl Erik Nord made news by announcing at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology that the bacteria that causes severe acne, Propionibacterium acnes, were developing resistance to the antibiotics used to treat the affliction.
This may have been news to the reporter who wrote the story, but it shouldn’t have been news to anyone else at the meeting: the bacteria that cause acne have been developing resistance to antibiotics at least since the late 1970s. An article published in an Australian medical journal in 1998 summed up the problem.
The overall incidence of P. acnes antibiotic resistance had increased from 20 percent in 1978 to 62 percent in 1996. The amount of resistance depends on the antibiotic, but the most common resistances are to erythromycin and clindamycin, tetracycline and doxycycline, and trimethoprim.
And the continuing use of antibiotics is producing more and more resistant strains. Using long-term antibiotics for acne is probably an outdated treatment whose result will be not to cure acne but to create more resistant strains of bacteria.
A vaccine against these species of bacteria is therefore the most likely to produce the desired results, but no such vaccine exists at this time.