As we grow older, we realise that acne isn’t a teenage, adolescent problem, but rather a skin issue that can hit you at any point in your life. If you have ever faced or still face this issue, then you know exactly what we are talking about. When you have acne-prone skin, you need to be extra careful with what you apply topically on your skin and what you take in as a treatment. Here, we talk about one such common acne treatment - doxycycline for acne.
Doxycycline is one of the most popularly prescribed antibiotics for acne treatment. So, we got talking with Dr. Niketa Sonavane, Celebrity Dermatologist and founder of Ambrosia Aesthetics, Mumbai about the ins and outs of this medication. She gave us an expert's insight on everything we needed to know about doxycycline for acne, read on!
- What is doxycycline and how does it help with acne
- How does doxycycline treat acne?
- How to use doxycycline for acne
- What are the common side effects of doxycycline
- Things to keep in mind while taking doxycycline for acne
- Who should avoid taking Doxycycline
- FAQs about doxycycline for acne
What is doxycycline and how does it help with acne
Before we dive straight into the details, let’s start with the basics and understand what exactly is doxycycline and why is it a common and go-to treatment for acne. Doxycycline is an antibiotic and it's widely used to treat several infections like chest infections, skin infections, rosacea, and even dental infections.
More specifically, doxycycline is a tetracycline antibiotic that is commonly and popularly used to treat bacterial infections including moderate to severe acne by many dermatologists and experts. It usually has a low side effect profile and good efficacy in treating inflammatory acne. Hence it is one of the most commonly used oral antibiotics for acne. It is a highly effective drug that has been used in dermatology for decades and has a good safety record.
Dr. Sonavane further explains, “It is only considered for people who have inflammatory acne, such as large, red, angry pimples. Doxycycline is also beneficial for people who have acne on their chest and back, as well as those who aren't responding to conventional topical medications.”
How does doxycycline treat acne?
Now, coming to the topic at hand - how exactly does doxycycline treat acne? According to Dr. Sonavane, doxycycline works in two ways to treat acne. Firstly, it reduces the redness and tenderness of active pimples - all thanks to its dual anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties.
Furthermore, it works to reduce the levels of the acne-causing bacteria P. acnes on the skin directly. It accomplishes this, like the other tetracyclines, by inhibiting this bacteria's protein synthesis. This way, reduced bacterial levels further reduces skin inflammation.
As doxycycline helps calm inflammation, it works great in treating inflamed acne, but isn't that effective on non-inflamed ones. So, while it can take care and makes sure to improve the red or pus-filled bumps AKA the annoying pustules and cysts on your skin, it is not so effective for blackheads or milia.
Besides this, doxycycline also works on the immune system to reduce inflammation by preventing the action of inflammatory blood cells as well as enzymes and messengers that cause skin inflammation and irritation during acne.
How to use doxycycline for acne
Now, while you may be all convinced to buy this medicine for treating your stubborn acne, we must let you know that doxycycline isn’t an over-the-counter medication. It is actually a prescription medication and comes in a tablet or a capsule form that you can take orally. So, in order to have this, you must first obtain a prescription from your dermatologist.
We can’t emphasize enough on the fact that it is critical to use this medication only under the supervision of a dermatologist - as it can have serious side effects in unmonitored use. Like any other medication, you need expert’s advice and insight on how to go about taking treatment, so don’t just start using it because you’ve heard it’s effective.
This is important because the dosage and duration of treatment will vary from patient to patient. According to Dr. Niketa Sonavane, you can expect to be on this medication for at least six to eight weeks, with the usual dose being 50 to 100 milligrams taken once or twice daily. She also stresses on the need to consult an expert before turning to this medication.
What are the common side effects of doxycycline
Like any other medication, there are possible side effects of doxycycline too. We asked Dr. Sonavane to highlight the most common side effects of this medication and she listed out the following -
- One of the most common side effects of doxycycline is heartburn, also known as acidity.
- Doxycycline can also cause esophageal inflammation and in severe cases, esophageal and gastric ulcers.
- Another possible side effect can be nausea and vomiting. As is increased sun sensitivity, so be extra cautious when it comes to sun protection while using this medication.
Things to keep in mind while taking doxycycline for acne
Now that we have discussed the possible side effects, let us also keep in mind a few expert tips from Dr. Sonavane that you must keep in mind while you are taking doxycycline for acne.
As doxycycline can cause gastrointestinal side effects, make sure to drink a full glass of water while taking the medicine. Also, do not lie down for at least 30 minutes, if not an hour, to reduce the risk of developing heartburn. Remember to take it after meals if you have pre-existing gastritis.
Take a probiotic supplement for the entire duration of your treatment as long-term use of any antibiotic (including doxycycline) can negatively impact your gut microbiome.
You can combine oral doxy with a topical product containing benzoyl peroxide or a retinoid in order to prevent bacterial resistance while treating acne.
While it takes several weeks to see results, doxycycline use should be limited to three or four months and stopped as soon as possible. This is the general rule of thumb for any oral antibiotic used as an acne treatment - again to reduce the possibility of bacterial resistance.
Who should avoid taking Doxycycline
We all know that not every medicine is suitable for everyone. That’s why doxycycline is not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, you should avoid it if you are allergic to tetracycline antibiotics.
We understand that this may appear to be a long list of potentially unpleasant side effects, however, doxycycline is still regarded as a top-tier safe and effective oral antibiotic for acne. So, you can consult your dermatologist for the same.
FAQs about doxycycline for acne
Q. Is doxycycline a life-long treatment?
A. No, doxycycline is not a long-term treatment. Once you're off of it, topical treatments should be sufficient to keep the results you've achieved. If not, your dermatologist will most likely recommend an alternative oral medication, such as hormonal therapy or a powerful medication known as Isotretinoin.
Q. Can doxycycline make acne worse?
A. You may notice sudden breakouts and your acne condition worsening when you start taking doxycycline, however, it isn’t anything to be afraid about. It is just that your acne becomes worse before it starts getting better when you use this medication. However, if it persists, do consult your dermatologist.