If over-the-counter treatments don't work, you may need to bump it up a notch and try antibiotics. These medications damage or destroy bacteria, helping the body battle infections great and small. When used to treat acne, antibiotics (which are available in pill or topical form) kill the P. acnes bacterium, thus helping to reduce existing inflammation while preventing future bacterial growth through continued use. Tetracycline is commonly prescribed for acne, and it works by taking away the bacteria's ability to produce proteins.
Watch out, though -- it's not all clear skies (and skin) from here. Antibiotic treatment for acne sometimes causes dryness or scaling. Oral antibiotics can also make your skin sensitive to light, so you'll want to stock up on sunscreen or risk a very nasty burn.
There's another pill that might help some of us with acne. Read on to find out what it is.