Topical Erythromycin: A Solution for Inflammato…

Topical Erythromycin - Jamie Grill Collection/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Jamie Grill Collection/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Updated June 19, 2014.

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See’s Medical Review Board.

Topcial Erythromycin Bascis:

Erythromycin is an antibiotic used to treat inflammatory acne and rosacea.

Topical erythromycin comes in many forms: lotion, gel, ointment, toner-like solutions, and pledgets (small pads soaked in medicated solution, similar to a Stridex pad.) You can only get it with a prescription.

Oral erythromycin is also used to treat acne.

Also Known As:

Akne-Mycin, A/T/S, Erygel, Erycette, Emgel, Staticin

How It Works:

Topical erythromycin reduces bacteria and infection within the pore. It also helps decrease redness and inflammation.

Other Topical Antibiotics Used to Treat Acne:

Common Usage Directions:

Erythromycin is applied to clean, dry skin once or twice a day.

Sometimes your doctor will prescribe a second acne medication, like benzoyl peroxide or Retin-A (tretinoin), to be used along with erythromycin. Because the two medications work in different ways to treat acne, you’ll often get quicker, better results with this type of treatment.

Topical erythromycin is also available in combo treatment like Benzamycin.

Possible Side Effects:

  • Irritation
  • Burning or stinging
  • Redness
  • Dry skin

If a rash appears, or you get major skin irritation, tell your doctor.

Tips for Using Topical Erythromycin:

  • Apply over the entire area where acne is a problem, not just on individual pimples.
  • One drawback of topical erythromycin treatment is that it can stop working over time. Blame bacterial resistance. Let your derm know if it isn’t working for you, or if acne comes back after clearing up.
  • Be consistent; you’ll get much better results. No skipping applications!

More About Treating Acne with Topical Antibiotics