It’s hard not to be aware of this name: Doxycycline. And when you’re an acne sufferer, it gets more certain that you’ve at least heard of it, if not used.
It’s an anti-biotic, that’s clear right off the bat. But do anti-biotics work for acne? Can doxycycline treat your acne? Is it going to be worth it? If yes, at what cost (both in terms of price and side-effects)?
This post will briefly discuss all aspects of the relationship between doxycycline and acne, and you will get answers of all the questions raised above.
So, let’s dive in!
Doxycycline for Acne – A Quick Overview:
Doxycycline belongs to Tetracycline group of antibiotics. It is generally given to treat moderate to severe forms of acne.
A study published under the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology describes it as among the most “widely prescribed (antibiotic) based on decades of clinical experience and published literature.”
It is usually prescribed with some other drug or supplement. Benzoyl peroxide is usually the drug of choice with doxycycline. Retinoic acid is the other most frequently used alternative.
In order to avoid the formation of resistant bacteria (as it happens with all anti-biotics), your Derm might switch you to another antibiotic of the same group. They may also prescribe another one altogether.
In general, it is considered a safer choice among a variety of other drugs such as accutane for acne treatment.
When is Doxycycline Prescribed for Acne?
The reasons your Derm might put you on doxycycline include (but not limited to) the following:
- Your acne is inflammatory.
- Your acne was non-responsive to topical acne products.
- Your acne was mild but non-responsive to other drugs.
Bacteria play an important role in the formation of inflammatory acne. So, targeting them is an important step in clearing acne breakouts.
How Does Doxycycline Work Against Acne?
Acne is caused by a series of mishaps happening in your body.
First, your sebaceous glands start to secrete excessive amount of sebum (skin’s natural oil). This excess oil, thanks to the presence of dead skin cells and other debris on your hair follicle, finds its way out difficult. This is when your pore is essentially clogged.
Now, if this trapped oil inside your hair follicle is accompanied by bacterial accumulation (which inevitably happens), it results in skin inflammation, or essentially a big red pimple.
Doxycycline is good at fighting bacteria and this reducing inflammatory acne.
However, there’s a caveat. Doxycycline won’t stop excess oil production or won’t treat blemishes caused by clogged pores. That’s where topical retinoid and benzoyl peroxide come into play. These topical medications can be continued for a long time without creating bacterial resistance.
Why is Doxycycline Used With Other Drugs?
4 goals define the use of other drugs with doxycycline:
- Faster and effective results
- Resisting the resistant bacteria
- Prolonged use
- Lower dose range
Doxycycline is usually prescribed with benzoyl peroxide or topical retinoid. This combination produces faster and efficient outcome.
Doxycycline is used as an oral tablet and thus has systemic effects as well. The combined potency of two drugs will have a better chance of treating acne at a faster pace. It will also allow the doxycycline dose to be reduced.
Like any other antibiotic, the use of doxycycline is associated with the emergence of resistant bacterial strains. It means that if this drug is used for prolonged periods and in higher amounts, then the acne-causing bacteria will develop a natural resistant towards the drug by altering their structure. When doxycycline is used with other medication, the combined action allows the dose of doxycycline to be reduced without losing its efficacy.
Once the acne is gone or is in the diminutive stage, the drug can be slowly tapered off while continuing the topical medication. In this way, the emergence resistant bacterial strains can be avoided.
When not to use Doxycycline Against Acne
There are certain conditions where use of doxycycline is contra-indicated. These are as follows:
- If you have a condition where food cannot be effectively passed through your mouth/esophagus.
- Hepatitis (liver failure).
- Candidal or any other fungal infection.
- If you are pregnant or breast feeding.
- Expecting a child or planning one.
- Age less than 8-10 yrs.
- In case you are allergic to doxycycline.
How will you know about any allergic reaction? Well here’s a list of potential symptoms:
- Swelling and redness of face
- Difficulty in breathing
- Swelling of lips or throat
- Burning sensation
Doxycycline for Acne – the Side-Effects and Their Solutions:
- Heart burn-like sensation: Try not to lay down after at least one-hour you’ve taken the dosage. Doing so will not let you put stress on your esophagus, which is the cause of this usual side-effect.
- Gut Irritation: Your Derm will most likely recommend you to take it with food, and not on an empty stomach. Doing so won’t only reduces the chances of cut irritation, but can also save you
Doxycycline for Acne Dosage
It is a prescription-only medication, and you can’t buy it over-the-counter. Rightly so, as it requires careful analysis of your situation before prescription and constant monitoring by an expert during the course.
The dose can vary from 50-100mg. It will be in a tablet or capsule form. You will have to pop in the pill once or twice a day.
7 Helpful Tips When Using Doxycycline for Acne:
You have to look out for a couple of things while you are on Doxycycline. Let’s go through them real quick. You’ll have an idea as to what to expect while you are on the drug:
- Your skin will be sensitive to the typical sunlight. So, better apply a sunscreen whenever you are going out. Tanning will not be a good idea during this time!
- Keep in mind that milk and other dairy products cannot be used along the drug. It will only delay its action.
- Don’t be unrealistic in your approach to skin treatment. It will take time. Be patient. The treatment could go on for months and there will be a careful slow withdrawal. You doctor will check you the recurrence after stopping the drug.
- For the gastrointestinal (stomach upset, diarrhea etc.) side-effects of the drug, you can take this drug with meals.
- The sunburn type reaction is rare with doxycycline but it can occur. It is usually experienced with high dosage. If it occurs, it is expected to get better around 10-14 days or a month. For prevention, use broad spectrum sunscreen during its use.
- While popping a pill, take a glass full of water and stay erect in order to avoid “pill esophagitis”. It is a condition where your throat might feel some degree of irritation as the drug passes through it.
- This is an important one: If you are taking antacids, anti-convulsants, birth control pills, or have gone through any other vaccination, do not forget to mention this to your doctor. As it might reduce the effectiveness of the drug.
What has been your experience with doxycycline? Did it clear your acne? Did you encounter any downsides of doxycycline for acne? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!