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How Does Doxycycline Work For Acne?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Aanand Geria, MD
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How Does Doxycycline Work For Acne? February 19, 2019

Dealing with acne is a constant struggle. It needs more than just serums, lotions, and generic topical treatments. Conditions like rosacea and acne may sometimes need stronger medications. Most often than not, it comes down to oral antibiotics. Doxycycline is one such drug that has gained popularity for treating acne. What is doxycycline? How does it help battle acne? Are there any possible side effects? It’s time to find out all of that. Read on.

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What Is Doxycycline?

Doxycycline belongs to the tetracycline group of antibiotics (1). It works only on bacteria and not viruses. It is used to treat bacterial infections like skin infections, eye infections, pneumonia, UTI, Lyme disease, etc. (2). All this explains how the drug has come to be a part of acne medication. Let’s understand how it works for acne.

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How Doxycycline Works For Acne

Doxycycline is prescribed to treat acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments. It controls the bacteria that cause breakouts, clears the pores, and prevents the infection from spreading. Acne is not contagious, but antibiotics like doxycycline can help clear acne by reducing the number of acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) present on your skin.

The antibiotic works on reducing the redness and inflammation caused due to acne vulgaris and other acute forms, including rosacea. Of course, it’s not a spot treatment since it’s an oral medication.

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Great! Is there a specific way to use it for acne?

How To Use Doxycycline For Acne

How To Use Doxycycline For Acne Pinit

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  • Follow your dermatologist’s instructions.
  • If you are on other medication, talk to your physician to adjust your dosage accordingly.
  • Doxycycline cannot be purchased over the counter. It needs a prescription.
  • It is always short-term and should be used for the period recommended by your doctor. Extend its use only if your doctor suggests you do.
  • It does not stop the formation of the comedo in the pore and should be combined with topical retinoids and/or benzoyl peroxide.

Can everyone take doxycycline or is it contraindicated for certain people? Find out in the next section.

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Who Should Not Take Doxycycline

  • Do not give it to children below 12.
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid doxycycline.
  • If you have any known reactions to tetracyclines, do not take doxycycline without testing or getting approval.

Seems like a promising treatment for acne. But, are there any side effects?

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Possible Side Effects Of Doxycycline

Possible Side Effects Of Doxycycline Pinit

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  1. Doxycycline can be a little strong on your tummy, especially if you have a sensitive gut. You might experience nausea or stomach discomfort initially, so do not take it on an empty stomach.
  1. It can cause some acid reflux. If you have a history of acidity or other related issues, talk to a physician. It will take a while before your body gets used to the drug.
  1. Topical application of doxycycline makes you susceptible to sunburns, tan, and UV rays.
  1. In very rare cases people might experience breathing problems, swollen lips, or break into hives or rashes.

Before you use doxycycline, there are a few things you should be aware of.

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Things To Keep In Mind

  • If you are taking doxycycline orally, do not forget to apply sunscreen. Use it consistently before you see results.
  • If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, talk to your OB/GYN or physician before you start using it.
  • Take a glass full of water when you take the pill.
  • Do not self prescribe the dosage or decide to take it without a physician’s guidance.
  • Also, do not stop taking the medication because you see the results. Finish your course.

Doxycycline works from within, and remember, it takes a while to clear from inside out. Hang in there and let it work organically. Do you have any questions on this? Leave a message in the comments section below.

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Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

1. How long does doxycycline take to work on acne?

It is not a spot fix for acne, and it will be a while before you start seeing results. It will take a minimum of 3 to 8 weeks before you see any real improvement.

2. What is the best time to take doxycycline for acne?

Take doxycycline as prescribed by your doctor. It usually is taken an hour after a meal.

References

  1. Tetracycline Antibiotics: Mode of Action…”, Microbiology And Molecular Biology Reviews, US National Library Of Medicine.
  2. Doxycycline…“, Medline Plus, US National Library Of Medicine.
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