Doxycycline For Acne: What You Need To Know

Key Takeaways

  • Doxycycline is a prescription antibiotic that targets the harmful bacteria that cause acne. It’s typically reserved for moderate or severe cases that don’t respond to over-the-counter treatments and prescription topicals.
  • The antibiotic targets many types of acne, including comedones, nodules, papules, pustules, and cystic acne.
  • Because doxycycline is an antibiotic, you should take it on a full stomach with lots of water. You can also take probiotics to reduce some of the symptoms.

If you’ve tried every over-the-counter solution for acne, it might be time to turn to prescription treatment options. The prescription antibiotic doxycycline is an excellent solution that targets the problem at its source. But how does doxycycline work?

And what do you need to know before taking it? If you want to discover the answer to these questions, you’re in the right place. This helpful guide will cover everything you need to know about doxycycline.

What is Doxycycline?

Before we begin, it’s essential to understand precisely what doxycycline is. This drug is a type of antibiotic that belongs to the tetracyclines family. It treats various skin conditions, including acne, cellulitis, rosacea, and skin infections.

You’re most likely to take doxycycline in a capsule or pill. Doxycycline is sold under many different brand names, including:

  • Vibramycin
  • Adoxa
  • Oracea
  • Doryx
  • Generic doxycycline

If you want to discover more about the specific drug information associated with the antibiotic doxycycline, you can visit this informative guide.

How Doxycycline Works

If you’ve noticed that over-the-counter acne medications aren’t working for you, you’ll need to try something more substantial, like doxycycline. This antibiotic targets acne at the source by preventing the reproduction of harmful bacteria that cause acne.

Moreover, it also helps lower the number of harmful bacteria present on the skin, which can help prevent future outbreaks.

The Types of Acne

In this section, we’ll review some of the different types of acne you can use doxycycline to fight against. If you want a complete guide, check out this helpful resource here.

Comedones (Whiteheads/Blackheads)

Both whiteheads and blackheads are comedones. However, they differ slightly in appearance. Whiteheads occur when dead skin and oil block off a hair follicle. The closed bump fills with sebum giving it a yellow or white appearance.

Blackheads, on the other hand, are open bumps in the skin. The black color isn’t dirt but rather the color that bacteria turn when exposed to air. The good news is that comedones are the most manageable acne to treat.


Nodules, papules, and pustules are often more challenging to treat than comedones and more painful. Let’s start with nodules. Nodules refer to lesions that are found deep within the dermis.

This depth and the inflammation associated with them make them more challenging to treat. Next, papules are small red bumps that occur when Propionibacterium acne infects the skin. Lastly, there are pustules.

This acne typically features red swelling with a white or yellow spot. This white or yellow spot is pus, which is a combo of white blood cells and bacteria waste.

Cystic Acne

Cystic acne is by far the most severe acne to treat. That’s because, with this type of acne, the infection typically goes down deep within the skin (even deeper than nodules).

From there, they develop into pus-filled cysts, which infect all of the skin in the surrounding area. You will need the help of a professional to treat this type of acne.

A close up of Doxycycline for Acne

Image Source: Dr. Alexa

How to Use Doxycycline for Acne

Doxycycline comes in capsule or tablet form, which you will take once or twice daily. If you have trouble swallowing, you can break the tablet up into a powder to take it.

However, you can’t do this with capsules. You’ll likely also use doxycycline alongside a topical acne solution to combat excessive oil.

Related: Pricing – Acne Treatment at a Fraction of the Cost

Who Should Not Use Doxycycline

Some people have a rare allergy to tetracycline-class antibiotics like doxycycline. If you know you have one of these allergies, do not take it. What’s more, doxycycline interacts with certain types of drugs.

So if you take things like anticoagulants (blood thinners), penicillin, antacids, iron, magnesium, oral contraceptives, and anti-epileptics, tell your doctor.

Dosage for Doxycycline

Your dosage of doxycycline will depend on factors like the acne condition you’re treating and how long you’ve been on antibiotics. Typically, you will take one to two capsules or tablets per day. These can have a strength that ranges between 50 mg and 200 mg.

Duration of Use

Typically, you want to use doxycycline for as short a period as possible. Three to four months is an ideal amount before switching to just topicals. However, some people may need more time than that.

Four Ways to Reduce How Long You Use Doxycycline

The shorter the period of time you’re on doxycycline, the better. Let’s explore some ways to reduce that amount.

1. Use All of Your Treatments Together

Antibiotics lose their effectiveness over time. That’s why taking doxycycline in conjunction with topical solutions containing adapalene and benzoyl peroxide (like Epiduo) is essential.

2. Use Gentle Skin Care

Avoid scrubbing, picking, and popping acne, as this only causes your condition to worsen. Instead, gently clean your face with soap and water before applying topical medications.

3. Follow Up Often with Your Dermatologist

Make sure you report your progress to your doctor. If things aren’t going well, either due to side effects or lack of results, they may switch you to a different medication or antibiotic.

Tired of having to wait and drive to see your dermatologist for follow-up care? Learn why you should use Honeydew to make your life much easier.

4. Keep Up with Your Maintenance Routine

If your acne goes away after using doxycycline, don’t get complacent. It can come back quite easily if you don’t have a maintenance routine. So make sure you’re still applying topicals after you finish your cycle of antibiotics.

Common Side Effects of Using Doxycycline

As this study notes, doctors are more likely to prescribe doxycycline because it comes with fewer instances of rare (yet serious) side effects. That being said, like any drug, there are potential negative side effects that you should be aware of.

Esophagus Pain and Indigestion

Your esophagus refers to the tube that connects your stomach to your throat. Some people report that after taking doxycycline, they experience painful sensations when swallowing.

It’s also not uncommon to have heartburn and indigestion sensations. You can minimize these side effects by taking your doxycycline with a big glass of water every day.

Diarrhea and Upset Stomach

Doxycycline also has the potential to cause an upset stomach and diarrhea. You can decrease the severity of this symptom by taking your medication with food.

However, make sure you avoid dairy. Not only does this make doxycycline less effective, but the milk products in dairy can actually cause more acne to develop.

Sensitivity to Sunlight

Like many other types of acne medication, doxycycline can make your skin slightly more sensitive to sunlight.

As such, make sure you wear sun protection like hats and sunscreen to help with your photosensitivity.

Reducing Side Effects with Antibiotics

Sadly, there is a downside to antibiotics. When you take them, it wipes out both the good and the harmful bacteria in your gut’s microbiome. This is where many of the side effects come into play.

As such, when taking antibiotics like doxycycline, you might also want to consider adding probiotics to your routine. That way, you can counter the effects of doxycycline.

A young man on an orange couch smiling.

Alternative Antibiotic Treatments for Acne

In some cases, you might have an allergic reaction to doxycycline, or it might contradict some of your current medications. Your doctor might prescribe alternative antibiotic treatment for your skin condition in these cases.

Some common ones include things like Tetracycline, Amzeeq (minocycline), Erythromycin, and Azithromycin. Make sure to ask your doctor for some FAQs to help find out which options are suitable for you.

Doxycycline for Acne

Doxycycline is a good starting place for treating acne through antibiotics. However, depending on your reaction to the medication, it might not be for you.

You can both get a prescription for doxycycline and be monitored for side effects through Honeydew. All you need to do is follow this link to get started.