Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Acne Medication?

person holding the lotion

Be careful with alcoholic beverages while taking oral acne medications

Alcoholic beverages are a part of western culture. In 2018, 49% of British adults were reported to be drinking at least one drink per week. Is this habit safe if you are taking medications for acne? Let's explain it.

What is acne? Why is it important?

Acne is a very common skin problem which you can face as you enter puberty. It can appear anywhere, e.g., chest, shoulders, face, back etc..., but facial acne is most disturbing as it can destroy your cosmetic beauty. But why does it occur?

As you enter puberty, the pores in your skin open up. These pores become clogged with oil, bacteria and dead skin cells leading to pimples, pustules and redness on the skin. According to Great Ormond street hospital,85% of youngsters in the age group 12-25 develop some form of acne, and 15% of these people use different acne treatments.

Can you consume alcohol while taking antibiotics and other acne medications?

So, what can you do if you have acne? For the treatment of acne, usually, two options are available;

  • Over-the-counter medicated creams and lotions contain benzoyl peroxide, retinoids, organic acids etc... These medications are applied topically.

  • Oral medications contain isotretinoin or antibiotics. These are used for severe acne. Oral contraceptives have also been used to control acne in women.

Can this alcohol interact with these medications? As a general rule, alcohol doesn't interfere with topical products. However, it can interact with some oral drugs. Let's understand how alcohol can influence some important drugs used for the treatment of acne.

Isotretinoin (Roaccutane/accutane)

It is a retinoid (a derivative of vitamin A). It is used to treat severe acne. It is currently the most effective treatment for severe acne.

However, you need to consult the dermatologist because its overuse is also linked to various problems, e.g., vomiting, warmth and tingling in the face, headaches, loss of coordination, and crackled lips etc... . You can combine it with contraceptives for better safety.

How oral isotretinoin interacts with alcohol?

It is very dangerous with alcohol. Its combination with alcohol can cause a disulfiram reaction. You may feel nausea, vomiting, flushing, increased heart rate etc... It is advisable to leave alcohol with oral isotretinoin.


Oral erythromycin is not recommended for acne treatment due to side effects, e.g., stomach problems. It is also not recommended due to antibiotic resistance issues.

It is usually present in topical products, where it is often combined with benzoyl peroxide for acne treatment. But what if you use it orally? If you are an alcoholic, it can interact with the alcohol and can cause an increased gastric emptying time. This effect will curb its therapeutic properties as its absorption into the blood will be slowed down.

So, if your doctor has recommended erythromycin for your acne, you should leave alcohol consumption as soon as you are taking it.


It is among the very common prescription drugs for acne. The brands available in the market usually do not have any warning against drinking alcohol as no direct interaction has been noted between the drug and alcohol.

However, if you are experiencing the side effects of lymecycline, e.g., stomach problems, headaches and dizziness etc..., you should avoid drinking alcohol as it can exacerbate these side effects. So, if you have a history of reactions to this drug, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist who will tell you if this medicine is suitable for you or not.


It is a member of the tetracycline class of antibiotics. It is also not known to have any interaction with alcohol. So, you can carry on alcohol consumption while taking it to treat acne. However, it is advised to exercise moderation. Keenly observe any side effects because the drug interactions can differ from person to person.

If you note any, immediately consult your physician.


It is another member of the tetracycline group and is used to treat acne, skin bumps and blemishes. Again, this medication is not known to have any interaction with alcohol. However, alcohol abuse can disturb the liver enzymes, and the availability of this drug can be reduced. So, it is a good practice to avoid overuse and discuss your complete medical history with the physician.

If you note any side effects, immediately rush to the doctor.


The use of spironolactone for acne treatment is off-label, and it is not approved by FDA. It blocks the effect of hormones on the facial oil glands. However, mixing alcohol with it can disturb your blood pressure leading to headaches and fainting. Dizziness, lightheadedness and disturbed heart rate.

It is advised to do any physical activities while combining the spironolactone with the alcohol, e.g., driving, working on machinery etc... inform the doctor if you note any side effects.

Contraceptive pills

Acne in women is related to the disturbance of hormonal levels. Birth control pills are considered very effective in this type of acne.

Again. The alcohol does not interfere with the action of contraceptive pills. So, you can drink alcohol while taking these pills. But, keep in mind that biology is never 100%. If a majority does not note any adverse reactions, you may be in the minority class.

So, verify any medical facts for your case.


Drinking alcohol does not interfere with topical acne treatments. However, if you are taking antibiotics for acne, the story is otherwise. The oral antibiotics can interact with the alcohol, and the resulting allergic reactions can worsen the acne.

So, it is very good practice to lower alcohol consumption while taking oral antibiotic tablets and regularly consult a medical professional if you are consistently observing any serious side effects. These precautions will ensure acne-free beauty.

To see more information about acne medication, click here

For a full range of medications, visit our Welzo Online Pharmacy Page. For more details click here.

Share article
Get 10% off your first order
Get 10% off your first order

Plus get the inside scoop on our latest content and updates in our monthly newsletter.