As a long-time sufferer of angular cheilitis, although it’s been about 5 years since my last outbreak, I was always concerned about the topical and oral antibiotics prescribed for the condition. Although I preferred natural treatments, I would, on occasion, run to my dermatologist when I felt panicky about the way I looked as a result of perleche-laden lips.
The prescribed antibiotics worked like a charm, but the last time I used it, the perleche did not seem to respond as well. Now this is not meant to serve as an example of antibiotic resistance – after all, I was completely stressed out during that period of my life. However, I’m now wondering whether the frequent use of antibiotics can render them useless. It’s possible that the bacteria simply become masters at evading the medication or mutate so that the meds cannot adversely affect them. After all, the will to survive is strong among all living things, including threatening microorganisms.
Why Antibiotics Lose Their Effectiveness
The fault of impotent antibiotics may sometimes rest with the amazing resourcefulness of the illness-producing bacteria. Consider Lyme disease where its victims may suffer symptoms long after the protocol of antibiotics has ended. Some medical researchers believe that the Lyme spirochetes can hide – not just from the antibiotics but from the immune system itself. Apparently, it changes the proteins on its surface to become difficult, if not impossible, to detect.
Now the bacteria responsible for angular cheilitis may not be as insidious as the Lyme spirochetes but it’s possible that some of the hearty microbes can run for cover when antibiotics try to destroy them. More research needs to be conducted to formulate antibiotics that can extend their present reach.
In addition, antibiotics can lose effectiveness as surviving bacteria become stronger and heartier. Yes, antibiotics hopefully kill off all the colonies, but when there are survivors, they reproduce and mutate so quickly, that it’s possible that the offspring develop a kind of natural immunity to the meds. Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ is apropos here, and the remaining bacteria form a stronghold against the same type of medication.
When another onslaught of antibiotics comes their way, some bacteria can neutralize the medication, pump it out to avoid being engulfed by it, or change the site of antibiotic attack where the germs’ important functions are not as affected. DNA mutation occurs as well so the ‘template’ for antibiotic resistance is passed to other colony members.
Preventing Antibiotic-Resistant Infections
Consider this scenario: You have been diagnosed with angular cheilitis and must take oral medication. Here are some tips to lower the chances of any future resistance:
1) Take the antibiotic in the exact prescribed dosage advised by your doctor;
2) Take the medication for the total number of days recommended by the physician (usually, that’s the entire gamut of pills), even if symptoms have subsided;
3) Do not skip rounds of the antibiotic, if possible.
4) If you’ve taken one type of antibiotic previously, speak with your doctor about prescribing a different antibiotic but one that can be just as effective; and
5) Don’t use antibiotics indiscriminately, only taking it when absolutely necessary. (Of course, don’t take antibiotics if you have a viral of fungal infection.);
6) Speak with your doctor about the possibility of taking probiotics, so-called ‘friendly bacteria,’ at the same time.
It appears that the bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics form biofilms, little strips of microorganisms in which cells stick to each other on a surface. Researchers are looking into a new peptide, known as 1018, that may disrupt the construction of such biofilms. If effective, this peptide may prevent bacteria from forming the biofilms, rendering them more susceptible to antibiotics and less likely to cause illness.
Final Word on Antibiotics
You should not be traumatized taking antibiotics as they are indispensable in helping ward off illness. However, you should not be an an antibiotic-junkie every time your body is threatened by microorganisms. Look for natural, holistic alternatives whenever possible.
If you have angular cheilitis, for instance, you may decide to first try natural and over-the-counter remedies. However, if they prove unsuccessful for you, your only recourse may be in the form of an oral and/or topical antibiotic.
Many folks have defeated angular cheilitis using at-home treatments but you may feel more comfortable taking prescribed medication. But with any course of treatment, there are always pros and cons.