Doxycycline for Acne

Oral antibiotics are resorted to by dermatologists for moderate to severe acne symptoms that do not respond to milder treatment. Oral antibiotics have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that fight the root cause of acne. Oral therapy usually acts faster to improve acne than topical treatments. An effective regime involves taking oral antibiotics combined with a suitable topical treatment. In this way, you attack acne on different fronts. Antibiotics must be taken under medical supervision.

When do you take oral antibiotics for acne?

Your doctor will decide you require oral antibiotics in the following scenarios:

  • When topical medications are not working well or working too slowly
  • When acne is severe and leaves scars
  • When you have inflammatory acne lesions
  • When you require the acne to be cured quickly
  • When there are vast hormonal changes – especially for women
  • When you become depressed

Oral antibiotics for Acne


Tetracyclines are considered ‘work horses’ of acne therapy. They inhibit the growth of the bacteria that causes inflammatory acne – P.acnes. Tetracycline is called the ‘bacteriostatic’ antibiotic as it reaches right into the sebaceous glands where the bacteria live and inhibit their growth.

The following are the family of tetracyclines used as oral antibiotics in acne treatment.

  • Generic tetracycline
  • Minocycline
  • Doxycycline

Doxycycline for acne

Doxycycline is sold under various names as capsules, tablets or liquids. Your dermatologist will decide when doxycycline for acne will prove effective and prescribe the right dosage.

Doxycycline for Acne

Usually 50-100mg of doxycycline is given once or twice a day. Doxycycline can be taken with food to avoid stomach upsets. Doxycycline is cheaper than Minocycline with potentially less severe side effects. 

Doxycycline Hyclate

This is used to treat different bacterial infections such as acne by stopping the growth of the P.acnes bacteria or acne rosacea. This Doxycycline medication must be taken on an empty stomach an hour before or 2 hours after meals, once or twice daily. The prescription varies depending on the patient. Take this medication with at least 8oz of water. If you get stomach upsets, you may need to take it with food. Do not take with milk since doxycycline may not work well with products rich in calcium.

Doxycycline must not be taken with products that contain iron, aluminum, zinc, bismuth subsalicylates or calcium. If you are taking the liquid form, make sure you shake the bottle well before use. Continue the medication for the entire duration without a break to get the full effect.

Doxycycline hyclate dosages will vary depending on the patient. You will not be prescribed this antibiotic if you have displayed allergic reactions to tetracyclines and its derivatives in the past or are pregnant or breastfeeding, have myasthenia gravis, liver problems or lupus. Alcohol interacts with doxycycline hyclate and they must not be combined. Your doctor must be made aware of any other supplementary medications you are taking for certain antibiotics react adversely with them. 

Subantimicrobial Doxycycline

Subantimicrobial dose of doxycycline is actually a very low dosage of this antibiotic that is now being studied as a possible safe treatment for acne. This doxycycline for acne is restricted to only 20mg a day. It is said to cure the inflammatory conditions of acne without action on P.acnes bacteria. This treatment is meant to avoid resistance to bacteria that higher and stronger doses can cause. Positive results have been found in patients who have acne rosacea where there is no P.acnes present. If this treatment will be as effective in severe forms of acne is yet to be seen.

Precautions while using doxycycline for Acne

The main disadvantage of doxycycline is its phototoxicity or severe reactions when the patient is exposed to the sun. You must take adequate sun protection when taking doxycycline for acne. Doxycycline is also said to cause heart burn or sore throat and must be taken with plenty of water. Pigmentation of the skin is possible with doxycycline. This drug is not recommended for young children as it causes stained teeth and can affect growth. 

There are other mild to severe side effects that doxycycline can cause some of which are: sore mouth, diarrhea, severe headaches, blurred vision etc. If these and other symptoms occur, when you take doxycycline for acne, consult your doctor immediately.