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Oral Minocycline

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Updated September 21, 2011

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

Treating Acne with Oral Minocycline:

Minocycline is an oral antibiotic that is commonly prescribed for acne. It belongs to a group of antibiotics called tetracyclines (doxycycline and tetracycline also belong to this group and are also used to treat acne).

Of the all the tetracyclines, minocycline is the most expensive option. But it can be effective against acne when other oral antibiotics have failed.

Minocycline has been used for decades and is especially effective against inflammatory acne, although it's rarely used as a solo treatment. Its nearly always prescribed along with a topical acne medication. This will give you much better results than just using minocycline alone.

Also Known As:

Minocin, Dynacin, Vectrin, Solodyn (extended-release minocycline)

How It Works:

Minocycline works to treat acne in two ways. First, it stops the growth of bacteria that cause acne breakouts. Second, minocycline reduces inflammation. If you have red, inflamed pimples this is good news.

On the other hand, minocycline won't do much for blackheads and other non-inflamed blemishes. A better choice in this case would be topical retinoids.

Other Oral Antibiotics Used to Treat Acne:

Common Usage Directions:

Fifty to 100 mg, one or two times a day, is a common starting dosage.

Although it's recommended to be taken on an empty stomach, minocycline can also be taken with food. Unlike some other oral antibiotics, minocycline is absorbed really well, even with food. Not having to take it on an empty stomach is a big plus, especially for teenage boys who always seem to be hungry!

You'll slowly taper off minocycline treatment once acne is under control. At this point, acne can often be kept in check by topical treatments alone. Sometimes, though, oral antibiotics have to be taken long-term to keep acne from returning.

Possible Side Effects:

Side effects can happen, although for most people they aren't too uncomfortable. Just make sure to check in with your doctor if you notice any. Some of the more common side effects:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness

A bluish discoloration of the gums and mouth can also happen with minocycline use. This sounds strange and a bit scary, yes, but it generally occurs only with long term use and it is reversible. Tooth discoloration (again, of bluish nature) can happen too. It's extremely unusual, but this one can be permanent.

Very rarely, taking minocycline can cause drug-induced lupus. Again, this is very rare and it usually goes away after stopping treatment.

Minocycline Is Not Right For:

Minocycline shouldn't be used if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, so let your doctor know if either of these apply to you.

Also, kids under 8 years old shouldn't use minocycline, although some sources recommend waiting until after age 10 or even age 12. Talk to your doc to find out what's right in your case (or your child's).

Tips for Using Minocycline:

  • Try to take your medication at about the same times every day. It helps it work better when there is a constant amount in your bloodstream.
  • Take the entire course, even if your skin is looking better.
  • Don't lie down immediately after taking minocycline. Otherwise it can irritate the esophagus, which is really painful.
  • Give it time. It won't happen instantaneously, but gradually you'll notice less redness and less breakouts altogether.

Read More: Oral Antibiotic Treatment Options

Sources:

"Prescription Medications for Treating Acne." Acne Net. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/prescriptmeds.html. 2008. Accessed 08 Sept 2011.

Leyden JJ, Del Rosso JQ "Oral antibiotic therapy for acne vulgaris: pharacokinetic and pharmacodynamic perspectives." J Clin Aesthet Deratol. 2011 Feb; 4(2):40-7.

"Minocycline Oral" Medline Plus. National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682101.html 23 Aug 11. Accessed 08 Sept 11.

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