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Updated June 03, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Doxycycline Basics:

Doxycyline belongs to a group of antibiotics called tetracyclines. Doxycycline is used to treat acne and rosacea, as well as many other bacterial infections.

Doxycycline is an option for people with moderate to severe inflammatory acne, or mild inflammatory acne that will not respond to other treatments. It's taken orally and is available only with a prescription.

Also Known As:

Adoxya, Doryx, Monodox, Vibramycin

How Doxycycline Works:

Doxycycline works by hindering the growth of the bacteria -- in this case, Propionibacterium acnes, which is responsible for inflamed acne breakouts.

Oral antibiotics like doxycyline are especially useful in helping to clear back and body acne. Doxycycline is often used along with other with topical treatment, such as benzoyl peroxide or Retin-A.

Doxycycline is best for those with inflamed breakouts. It won’t clear up blackheads, whiteheads, or comedonal acne.

How Doxycycline Is Used:

Doxycycline is taken orally once or twice a day. Your doctor will probably suggest taking it with food if the medication upsets your stomach. (Don't take doxycycline with dairy, though, because it can make it less effective.)

Short-term use of doxycycline is the goal. Once your skin has improved noticeably, your doctor will start to taper off use of the medication. For some people, though, longer use may be needed to keep acne under control.

Low-dose doxycycline may be another option for you. Doxycycline used at a dosage too low to inhibit bacterial growth has been used successfully to treat rosacea and inflammatory acne.

Possible Side Effects of Doxycycline:

Side effects you may experience with doxycycline treatment include:

Doxycycline is a FDA Pregnancy Category D drug. It may cause harm to a fetus, so tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or you get pregnant while using doxycycline. Also, tell your doctor if you’re breastfeeding, because this medication may pass into breast milk.

Doxycycline shouldn't be used by young children because it can affect growth and cause permanent tooth discoloration.

Tips for Using Doxycycline:

  • Wear sunscreen. Taking doxycycline can make you more sensitive to the sun.
  • The use of oral antibiotics can cause antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It's important to take your medication exactly as directed, and tell your doctor if you aren't noticing improvement after several weeks of use.
  • To keep doxycycline from irritating your throat, take with a full glass of water.

Read More:

Oral Antibiotic Options

More Oral Acne Medications


"Doxycycline." Medline Plus. National Institutes of Health. 01 Sep 2008. Accessed 29 Mar 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682063.html

"Prescription Medications for Treating Acne." AcneNet. American Academy of Dermatology. 2010. Accessed 29 Mar 2010. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/prescriptmeds.html

Skidmore R et al. "Effects of subantimicrobial-dose doxycycline in the treatment of moderate acne." Arch Dermatol 2003 Apr; 139:459-64.

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  3. Acne
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  5. Oral Medications
  6. Oral Antibiotics
  7. Treating Acne With Doxycycline

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