Before You Take Antibiotics for Your Skin, Read This

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I come from a family that loves their antibiotics. My mom still stashes away extra antibiotics and will mail them to me all the way across the country in California to have on hand “in case of emergency.” So when I developed all-over cystic acne in my teens, I didn’t give a second thought to going on antibiotics. Yes, please!

Over the years I’ve tried so many different types (tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline–and those are just the oral versions) to clear up my skin, whether from acne or dermatitis...and none of them has ever worked long-term. In fact, they’ve ended up making my skin worse over time.

It turns out, antibiotics are not without their risks. “Antibiotic” literally translations to “no life.” Anti-bio. Their mission? To kill the bacteria in your body–but they don’t just take out the bad guys. Antibiotics kill the good bacteria as well, leaving you with a compromised micro-biome and, as a result, a gut that can’t function properly. And more often than not, faulty gut function is the root of your skin issues in the first place! (In other words, a more reasonable treatment would be to nourish your gut flora, not kill it.) Taking antibiotics for too long a period of time can also lead to antibiotic resistance, where your body basically becomes immune to the stuff.

At my skin’s lowest point, I agreed to a final two-month supply of oral antibiotics–the doctor swore this was the way to go! Those two months ended up destroying my gut and ruining my digestion, which led to some serious stomach issues (including chronic bloat, making me look perpetually four months preggo), decreased liver function, a nasty case of candida overgrowth, and–you guessed it–a raging acne attack months later, since my body was pretty much defenseless against toxins.

Suffice it to say, I don’t want to tell you what to do, but...maybe don’t resort to antibiotics unless you’ve truly tried everything else! If you are considering a round of tetracycline or doxycycline, there are two “natural antibiotics” you should try, first. 

Garlic Cloves

Who cares about bad breath as long as you have good skin, am I right? All joking aside, garlic is must for overall wellness–especially in the skincare department–thanks to the compound allicin. Allicin, which naturally occurs when a garlic clove is crushed, has been shown to be more powerful than penicillin and tetracycline in terms of fighting bacterial and fungal infections. Seriously. Garlic also has anti-microbial, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. That might sound like a lot of anti, but it’s totally pro-glow.

If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics for a skin issue and are considering your options, you might want to give garlic a try first. You can always add more garlic to the dishes you cook, but you’ll get the most out of this natural antibiotic by eating raw cloves. Don’t have the stomach for it? Odor-free garlic capsules to the rescue!

Oregano Oil

You’ve been warned: oregano oil is the worst thing you’ll ever taste–but the benefits make it so worth it. A dropper full of oregano oil a day can act as a natural antibiotic in the body, fighting off infections, bad bacteria, and fungus (like yeast or candida) naturally. It’s incredible for reducing inflammation, which is the root of all skin issues. Oregano oil also improves gut health, eliminates Staph infections, and prevents signs of aging. If you’ve tried everything and your skin still isn’t clearing up, it might be time to bring this bad (tasting) boy into the mix.

The body absorbs pure oregano oil more efficiently than oregano oil capsules, so if you want the full benefits, you unfortunately have to deal with the full taste. Grab a bottle of oregano oil, and try this trick every morning. Lift your tongue and place 3 - 5 drops of oregano oil underneath; swallow immediately and wash down with a glass of water, keeping your tongue raised the entire time. The oregano oil totally bypasses your taste buds! You’re welcome.

Both garlic and oregano have been shown to improve acne, dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, fungal skin issues, and more. If you’re wondering why your dermatologist hasn’t brought these guys to your attention, their price tags might give you a clue (um, they’re basically free).

After 10 days of chomping on garlic or swallowing down oregano (or both!), you should see a difference. Honestly, I noticed the effects of the oregano oil within days. (Note that oregano oil is highly antimicrobial, so you shouldn't take it more than 10 days in a row. For long-term use, take it 10 days out of every month.)

What do you think–are you pro-antibiotic, or are you willing to give the natural route a shot?

(P.S. If you do decide to take antibiotics, please for the love of God add a probiotic to your diet!)