Doxycycline: an antibiotic for acne

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Doxycycline: an antibiotic for acne
Doxycycline: an antibiotic for acne

by Kathleen Morrison, Lead Writer

March 7th, 2019

If you’ve tried every face wash, cream, and gel on the market and nothing seems to be able to break through your stubborn breakouts, your doctor may prescribe a round of antibiotics. Not just for sinus infections or battles with strep throat, dermatologists keep in their arsenal as a second or third line of defense against acne. One of the most common types they prescribe is called doxycycline - a drug in a group of antibiotics called tetracyclines that are named for the four carbon rings that make up their molecular structure (tetra = four).

How doxycycline works for acne

is an oral antibiotic and can come in capsules or tablets (tablets are flat while capsules are cylindrical - don’t worry, we had to look it up, too). When taken properly, this medication minimizes inflammation while targeting the acne-causing bacteria in your pores - no more red and painful zits. Our medical director, Dr. Aimee Paik, reiterates, "Its effects only last while you are taking the medicine and if it is the only acne medication you are taking, acne will typically recur once you stop it. That’s why topical medicines are so important since they do the real work of treating and preventing acne." Since the medical and scientific communities have become increasingly concerned about antibiotic resistance in recent decades, doxycycline is typically only used for moderate to severe acne and is almost always combined with topical retinoids or Using a combination of treatments and limiting the course of medication decreases the likelihood of acne-causing bacteria developing resistance - the last thing you would want!

Some things to keep in mind

There’s a lot to consider if you are thinking about taking antibiotics for acne and we want to arm you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision. Doxycycline is a powerful antibiotic which can cause, among other things, skin irritation and upset stomach. Be sure to always follow your doctor’s instructions to significantly reduce your likelihood of experiencing these adverse reactions:

  • Take doxycycline after a full meal and with a large glass of water. Eating a meal will reduce your risk of upset stomach, and the glass of water will reduce irritation in your throat.
  • After taking doxycycline, Staying on your feet will reduce your chances of irritating your esophagus, which can produce a heart-burn like sensation.


  • This medication can make you sensitive to the sun. Apply sunscreen every morning (of at least SPF 30) and do not go tanning.
  • taking this medication with any dairy products. Dairy can cause the medication to become less effective.
  • Consistent usage is key! Doxycycline only works if you take is regularly and correctly. Even if your acne is improving, finish the full course that the doctor prescribed. If you stop short, your acne may return worse than before.

Where can I get doxycycline?

Doxycycline is a prescription medication that can only be obtained through a physician. Of course, we believe the best way to get doxycycline is through one of Apostrophe’s dermatologists ;). Although general practitioners and family doctors offer acne consultations, dermatologists are the most qualified professionals for diagnosing and treating your acne.

How did doxycycline work for you? Thinking about trying it out? Let us know in the comments below, or tag us on Twitter at @hi_apostrophe!

Welcome to the fine print! Just so you know, this article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. It’s always best to talk to a doctor for that stuff.

Prescription medication should only be used according to doctor's instructions. Do not use Doxycycline if you are allergic to one of its ingredients. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Full list of safety information can be found at:

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