Many people are surprised to discover that the skin condition known as “acne vulgaris” is actually a bacterial infection and not just some random lesions that can crop up on the body. Caused by Propionibacterium acnes, this gram-positive microbe is guilty of causing the pimples on your face. While most people typically have P. acnes on their skin, it’s not uncommon for it to combine with the sebum in your pores to cause those trademark infected pustules that we associate with acne. Fortunately, this bacterium is easily eradicated with a powerful antibiotic called doxycycline, which can kill off the bacteria for good. To learn more about how to reduce your inflammatory acne with doxycycline, please keep reading.
Table of Contents
What You Need to Know About Doxycycline
A broad-spectrum antibiotic, doxycycline has been around since the 1950s and has been used commercially since the late 1960s for a wide range of conditions, including:
- Bacterial pneumonia,
- Lyme disease,
- STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
As part of the tetracycline antibiotic family, it works by inhibiting protein production in the bacterium. As part of the WHO’s (World Health Organization) List of Essential Medicines, its highly prescribed due to both its low cost and its effectiveness.
Generally, doxycycline is taken on an empty stomach, 1-2 hours before or after a meal and should not be taken at the same time as certain medications and supplements, including:
- Calcium (including heartburn and antacid medications),
- Bismuth subsalicylate (known as Pepto Bismol).
These medicines can bind with doxycycline, rendering it less effective. Be sure to wait 3 hours before taking any of these to avoid reducing its potency.
Your doctor may base your dose of doxycycline upon your weight, age, and how well you respond to treatment.
Typically, doxycycline is taken in pill form, with the first dose being 200mg the first day (spaced 12 hours apart, in 100mg doses). All subsequent days will be taken at just 100mg per day (taken at 50mg in the morning and 50mg in the evening).
How Long Does Doxycycline Take to Work for Acne?
For many, doxycycline is a miracle drug. Highly successful in most patients, it causes reduction in acne lesion count relatively quickly and has the added bonus of being anti-inflammatory, making it more effective than other antibiotics.
However, unlike most miracles, the cure doesn’t happen overnight.
You can expect results as early as two weeks, but after the four-week mark, you’ll observe significant improvement.
Over time, your skin will become smoother and clearer, and by three months, you’ll see almost complete relief from your acne vulgaris.
Even if you start to notice rapid improvement in your skin, continue your treatment until your dermatologist advises that you may stop. Ending your medication early can lead to relapse and antibiotic resistance, resulting in poor response to any subsequent doxycycline treatment.
While you may notice complete remission as early as four months, more severe acne may require longer treatment.
You can shorten your duration on the medication and improve its efficacy by:
- Staying the course, taking all of the prescribed medications. Prevent antibiotic resistance and rebound acne by taking your entire recommended dose.
- Follow a gentle skincare regimen. Avoid harsh scrubs and exfoliants when taking doxycycline, as they can irritate your skin and make the condition worse.
- Do not skip appointments with your doctor. Even if you feel like your skin is getting better, your dermatologist may decide to adjust your dose.
- Adhere to your prescribed maintenance program. Once your skin is clear, you’ll need to follow a new protocol as dictated by your doctor. Failure to do so could lead to relapse.
The Effectiveness: How Does it Work?
For those who have struggled with acne for a long time and have experienced repeated disappointment after different treatments have failed, it’s easy to doubt that doxycycline will actually work for them.
Unlike experimental creams and over-the-counter treatments that aren’t scientifically verified, doxycycline is guaranteed to work.
Studies show that doxycycline:
- Starts working as early as 4-6 weeks.
- Kills the acne-causing bacteria.
- Reduces inflammation and redness.
- Is safe to use simultaneously with topical creams.
- Clears up to 90% of moderate to severe acne.
Doxycycline works incredibly well in conjunction with retinoids. Learn more about how to use tretinoin here.
With a track record that strong, why wouldn’t someone choose to use doxycycline? Unless you have pre-existing contraindications, doxycycline may very well be the acne cure you’re looking for!
With so many different types of medications on the market, including several types of antibiotics, it’s understandable if you have questions about how doxycycline compares to other antibiotics. You can learn more about antibiotics for acne here.
Having a variety of choices is incredibly empowering, as it allows for experimentation to determine which treatment is the best fit for you. Instead of feeling trapped when one medicine doesn’t deliver perfect results, you can attempt different medicines to determine how well it works for you.
Doxycycline Hyclate is a fantastic medicine for those who might otherwise suffer without it. Similar to other tetracyclines, the main difference is the vehicle (the other ingredients in the pill) in which the medication is delivered.
The other primary difference is cost; depending on the current market value, doxycycline hyclate may be more expensive than other doxycycline analogs.
Occasionally, suppliers for doxycycline decide to stop making a certain formulation. When that happens, patients are often stuck wondering what their choices are and how they can proceed with treatment.
Doxycycline monohydrate is extremely effective for acne, but uncertainty about prices may motivate a doctor to choose one format of the medicine over a different one.
Doxycycline monohydrate is:
- Safe, fast, and effective.
- Guaranteed to work.
- Gentle on the stomach.
- Easy to take.
- Highly bioavailable.
Currently, doxycycline monohydrate is more affordable than doxycycline hyclate. Regardless, a volatile pharmaceutical market can change those prices at any time, so be mindful of cost when asking your doctor for a prescription.
Minocycline vs Doxycycline
Minocycline is also part of the tetracycline family of antibiotics. Learn more about minocycline for acne here.
It’s extremely powerful and effective, and occasionally doctors may choose to prescribe it for their patients instead of other antibiotics.
However, minocycline comes with an assortment of side effects, including:
- Gastric upset (diarrhea),
- Stained teeth,
- Reduced effectiveness of oral contraception,
Conversely, it prevails over doxycycline in some ways due to:
- Less photosensitivity to sunlight,
- Reduced risk of antibiotic resistance,
- Generic version is highly affordable,
- Very effective.
Depending on your doctor’s goals, they may decide to choose one antibiotic instead of the other. If they do, you can remain confident that you’ll obtain your desired clear skin regardless.
Tetracycline vs Doxycycline
Tetracycline has many benefits for acne and is comparable to doxycycline.
In some ways, it might even be superior, including:
- Safe for dialysis patients,
- Very affordable,
- Reliable and easily available,
- Effective for a variety of ailments.
On the other hand, it comes with some risks, including:
- Darkening of tongue and gums,
- More frequent dosing,
Talk to your doctor about which antibiotic is best for you. If one is working well for you, then you may not need to switch.
If side effects start to bother you, however, you may want to explore other options for treatment.
With technology evolving and changing on a daily basis, new formulations of doxycycline are frequently being released into the market. Each comes with its own particular use, but there may be some variation between each formula.
|Acticlate (75mg of doxycycline hyclate)||$1,996 for 60||It is effective for a variety of diseases, including malaria prophylaxis, syphilis, and streptococcal infections.|
|Doryx (200mg of extended-release doxycycline hyclate)||$2,756 for 60||This medicine is useful against chlamydia, acute epididymo-orchitis, and inhalation anthrax.|
|Oracea (40mg delayed release doxycycline)||$678 for 30||This medicine is specifically formulated for papular and pustular lesions associated with adult rosacea.|
|Doxy (100-200mg broad spectrum doxycycline)||$83 for 20||Doxy can treat a wide variety of illnesses, including acne, pneumonia, Lyme disease, and bronchitis.|
|Targadox (50mg delayed release doxycycline hyclate)||$760 for 60||Targadox is often taken for nongonococcal urethritis, inhalation anthrax, and acute epididymo-orchitis.|
|Monodox (50mg of doxycycline monohydrate)||$531 for 100||This medicine is effective against several types of bacterial infections, including acne, urinary tract infections, and periodontitis.|
|Adoxa (150mg doxycycline monohydrate)||$2,946 for 60||Adoxa is often prescribed for STIs such as syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.|
|Doxylin 100 (100mg doxycycline hyclate)||$50 for 90||This formulation of doxycycline is almost always primarily prescribed for acne vulgaris.|
|Doxylab capsule (100mg broad spectrum doxycycline)||$147 for 120||Doxylab capsule is primarily used against upper respiratory infections, acne, and STIs.|
|Doxitab (100mg of doxycycline hyclate)||$2 for 100||This medicine is often used against acne, rosacea, and rickettsial infections.|
|Vibramycin (100mg doxycycline hyclate)||$578 for 100||Vibramycin is often used for acne vulgaris, but can also be used against a variety of bacterial infections such as STIs and URIs (upper respiratory infections).|
|Droxyl (500mg broad spectrum doxycycline)||$3 for 30||This medicine is used for a variety of bacterial infections, including pneumonia, URIs, and STIs.|
These are several of the many pills available for acne on the market. You can learn more about acne pills here.
Prescribed for almost 70 years, doxycycline has been proven time and again to be safe, effective, and dependable.
However, as it is a prescription medication, it does come with a few mild-to-moderate side effects, including:
- Sun sensitivity,
- Loss of appetite,
- Vaginal itching or discharge.
While most side effects of doxycycline are relatively benign, some may be more life-threatening.
If you notice any of these more severe symptoms, immediately consult your physician:
- Blistering of the skin,
- Bloody stools,
- Increased thirst,
- Sores on your rectum or genitals,
- Signs of allergic reaction (including hives, swelling of lips or tongue, and itching).
Acne undermines your self-esteem and causes unwanted attention on your appearance. Struggling with it does not have to be a fruitless battle, though; if you suffer from this blight on your skin, then consult your dermatologist to clear your skin and regain your confidence with doxycycline.
You can find further details of Acne here.