Minocycline is a commonly prescribed oral antibiotic for acne . It belongs to a group of antibiotics called tetracyclines. This group also includes doxycycline and tetracycline for treating acne. Minocycline is the most expensive of the three, but it can be effective against acne when other oral antibiotics have failed.
Minocycline is also sold as:
- Solodin (extended edition)
Minocycline has been used for decades and is particularly effective against inflammatory acne. However, it is rarely used alone; it is almost always prescribed along with an acne medication . The combination generally produces better results than minocycline alone.
Minocycline treats acne in two ways. First, it stops the growth of bacteria that cause acne breakouts. Second, it relieves inflammation. If you have red, inflamed pimples, this is good news.
Other oral antibiotics for acne
Minocycline is not the only oral antibiotic used to treat acne. Other options:
What to expect
Minocycline is available in capsules or, like the Solodyn brand, extended-release tablets. If your healthcare provider has prescribed a capsule for you, you should take it two or four times a day at regular intervals. Solodin is a once-a-day treatment.
All brand-name versions of minocycline can be taken with or without food, but the generic form should be taken one hour before meals or two hours after meals. Regardless of the brand or composition, you should drink a full glass of water with each dose. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider's instructions exactly and do not take more or less than prescribed.
During the first few days that you are taking minocycline capsules (not extended-release tablets), it is important that you start with the one daily dose, usually recommended at bedtime, and increase to the full amount prescribed. You may experience some side effects, including:
However, for most people, these symptoms disappear in the morning. Your healthcare professional and pharmacist should advise you when to start taking additional daily doses.
How fast can it work?
It may take six to eight weeks for the drug to have a noticeable effect on acne, so be patient. If you also use a topical acne remedy, you can see results even before minocycline takes full effect.
Because it can take two months for it to have any effect, expect your healthcare professional to keep you on minocycline for at least three months to assess its full effectiveness.
Minocycline should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, so tell your doctor if any of this applies to you.
Minocycline should not be used in children younger than 8 years old due to the risk of discoloration of the permanent teeth. Some sources recommend waiting up to 10 or even 12 years. Talk to your doctor to find out which one is right for you (or your child).
Minocycline can negatively interact with several classes of medications. This can affect whether you can take certain medications, including minocycline, or require a dose adjustment for safety reasons. Potentially problematic drug classes include:
- Low-dose oral contraceptives (birth control pills) : Minocycline can reduce the effectiveness of these drugs, which can lead to breakthrough bleeding or unwanted pregnancy . It is recommended that you use an additional method of contraception while you are taking minocycline.
- Blood thinners : You may need to reduce the dose of these blood thinners while taking minocycline. Examples of blood thinners include Coumadin (warfarin) , Xarelto (Rivaroxaban), and Eliquis (Apixaban).
- Penicillin : Minocycline can interfere with the action of these antibiotics, so a combination is not recommended. Examples of penicillin preparations are amoxicillin , ampicillin, oxacillin.
- Methoxyflurane : Combination of this inhalation anesthetic with minocycline can cause fatal kidney poisoning. Penthrane brand.
- Other tetracyclines: Taking minocycline with other drugs in this class can also cause severe kidney toxicity.
Minocycline absorption can be affected by certain metals or nutrients that are used in medicine. Tell your doctor if you regularly take:
Your healthcare provider should always have a complete list of all medications, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, and supplements that you are taking.
The usual starting dose is 50 to 100 milligrams (mg) once or twice a day. Once your acne is under control, you will gradually move away from minocycline treatment. At this stage, acne can often only be controlled with topical treatments. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to take long-term oral antibiotics to prevent acne from recurring.
Tips for using minocycline
- Try to take your medicine at around the same time every day. It works best when there is a constant amount in the bloodstream.
- Complete the entire course, even if your skin looks better.
- Do not lie down immediately after taking minocycline, as it can irritate the esophagus and cause pain.
- It takes time. It won't happen overnight, but you will gradually notice less redness and breakouts.
Side effects can occur, although they do not cause much discomfort to most people. Just be sure to check with your doctor if you notice anything. Some of the more common side effects are:
- Nausea and vomiting
Minocycline can also cause blue discoloration of the gums, mouth, skin, nails, tears, and urine. This usually only occurs with prolonged use and is reversible. It is also possible to change the color of the teeth (again, cyanotic in nature). Although very unusual, the discoloration can be irreversible.
Less common side effects include:
- Itching in the vagina or rectum
- Ringing in the ears (ringing in the ears)
- Hair loss
- Dry mouth
- Swollen tongue
- Throat pain
- Inflammation of the tip of the penis.
- Muscle pains
- Humor changes
- Numbness, tingling, or tingling
If any of these side effects persist or become severe, tell your doctor. They may stop taking the medicine, depending on the nature and severity of the side effects.
In very rare cases, long-term use of minocycline can cause drug-induced lupus . Again, this is very rare and usually resolves within a few weeks after stopping treatment.
When to contact a healthcare provider
Minocycline can cause serious side effects, but they are less common. Call your doctor or get medical help right away if you have:
- Blurred, double vision, or vision loss
- Rash, hives, or blistering / peeling of the skin
- Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, and eyes.
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
- Yellowing of the eyes or skin with nausea, vomiting, or confusion.
- Bloody urine
- Liquid or bloody stools with stomach cramps or fever (up to two months after stopping treatment)
- Joint pain or swelling
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Chest pain or irregular heartbeat.
If any of this happens, your healthcare provider will likely stop taking minocycline.