Minocycline is an antibiotic that can kill certain bacteria on the skin that can cause acne. Side effects may include headache, dizziness, and fatigue.

Minocycline kills Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. It also fights inflammation.

In this article, we discuss whether or not minocycline is an effective treatment for acne. We also look at other ways a person can look after their skin.

Minocycline pills in a persons hand that can be used for treating acneShare on Pinterest
Minocycline may help treat moderate to severe inflammatory acne.

Minocycline is an antibiotic that belongs to the tetracycline family of antibiotics. It appears to help reduce the severity of certain types of acne.

An older 2012 study found that minocycline is an effective treatment for moderate to severe inflammatory acne. This is the type of acne that causes red lesions that may be painful or large.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine state, however, that it has no effect on noninflammatory acne, such as blackheads and whitehead.

However, besides killing the bacteria that cause acne, minocycline may fight inflammation that contributes to acne, too.

Research has found that tetracycline antibiotics, including minocycline, can inhibit inflammatory chemicals in the body that can affect acne.

However, a person can only take minocycline orally for short-term use due to its association with abnormal pigmentation and tinnitus. The U.S National Library of Medicine state that a person should not take oral minocycline for longer than 12 weeks.

In 2016, researchers tested a foam containing 4% minocycline. After 12 weeks, this appeared to be an effective form of treatment with few side effects.

Some researchers in the past have said that they do not believe minocycline should be the first choice for acne treatment.

A 2013 article states that the medication is no more effective than other acne therapies, including topical treatments. With the risk of certain side effects, the authors believe doctors should consider other acne treatments before using minocycline.

For the treatment of acne, doctors will typically prescribe minocycline in the extended release form. A person can take 1 milligram per kilogram (mg/kg) of body weight once a day for 12 weeks.

An individual’s weight can affect the dosage of minocycline. Those who have more weight may need a higher dosage. A person should not exceed the dose that the doctor prescribes.

People may take minocycline with or without food. However, taking the tablets with food can reduce the chances of causing irritation or ulcers in the esophagus, which is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.

Before taking minocycline, an individual should tell the doctor if they are taking any nonprescription medicines, herbal supplements, or vitamins. This is because these may interfere with how minocycline works.

Minocycline can also react with:

Minocycline can cause birth control pills to become less effective, so a person should use alternative protection while taking the medication.

Research shows that antibiotics such as minocycline work better in combination with other acne treatments rather than alone. A doctor may prescribe a topical acne medication, such as retinoids or a topical antibiotic, which a person uses on the skin at the same time.

Other topical options include benzoyl peroxide, which is available in prescription and over-the-counter formulas.

A person should follow the doctor’s advice on minocycline dosage and any topical acne products.

Minocycline is not safe for everyone.

The following people should not take minocycline:

  • people with a sensitivity or allergy to any tetracycline antibiotic
  • pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • children under 12 years of age
  • people who have liver or kidney problems
  • those taking birth control pills
  • people who are taking certain medications, including blood thinners and other antibiotics

Common side effects of minocycline include:

Minocycline can cause a person’s skin to become sensitive to the sun, so they must use extra protection from the sun and avoid tanning beds and sunlamps.

Another possible side effect includes a blue discoloration of the skin. However, a 2014 study shows it was most common in people using it for the skin condition known as rosacea who were on doses of 100–200 mg/day for longer periods.

Bacteria resistance is a possible side effect of any antibiotic, including minocycline. When bacteria become resistant to an antibiotic, the antibiotic may lose the ability to kill bacteria, causing it to become less effective. According to older research, minocycline is more popular as some other antibiotics are less effective due to bacterial resistance.

Sometimes, minocycline can cause severe side effects, including:

  • Harm to an unborn fetus: It may cause permanent tooth discoloration.
  • Intestine infection: A person should call a doctor if they experience persistent diarrhea or bloody stools.
  • Liver problems: A person should stop taking minocycline if they experience yellowing of the skin, tiredness, or loss of appetite.
  • Benign intracranial hypertension: This occurs when high pressure fluid appears around the brain. This can cause vision loss, so a person should call a doctor if they experience blurred vision or vision loss.

People should stop taking the medication and seek medical help if they experience any of the above symptoms.

Some skincare steps can help manage acne. The American Academy of Dermatology recommend the following:

  1. Wash skin twice a day and after sweating but do not over-wash.
  2. Apply acne treatments to the whole face, not just to breakouts.
  3. Try over-the-counter (OTC) benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, but ask a doctor before combining these with prescription acne treatments. Some may interact with each other or cause excessive dryness or irritation.
  4. Use gentle cleansers and products without alcohol or abrasive scrubbers.
  5. Gently pat skin dry and avoid rubbing with towels and washcloths to minimize irritation.
  6. Wash hair regularly to control oil on the scalp and around the hairline.
  7. Do not pop or pick at acne spots.
  8. Use only skin care products that are labeled noncomedogenic or “won’t clog pores,” and choose fragrance-free products.

If home care and OTC treatments do not improve acne, or if a person has severe acne, they should see a dermatologist.

When someone does not treat their acne, it can cause scarring and damage to emotional and mental well-being. Proper treatment can help them avoid these complications.

A person should seek medical help, as soon as possible, if they experience any of these symptoms:

  • hives
  • skin rash
  • sores in the mouth
  • skin blisters
  • swelling of the face, lips, eyes, or throat
  • difficulty swallowing
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • dark urine
  • abdominal pain
  • chest pain
  • swelling of the legs and ankles
  • darkening of the skin, nails, scars, teeth, nails, and gums

Minocycline is one of many acne treatments available. Studies show that it can help with moderate to severe inflammatory acne.

If a doctor prescribes minocycline, people should take it according to their prescription. They should not take more than the doctor prescribes or for longer periods. Doing so may increase the risk of side effects but does not help to improve acne.

People may need to take minocycline with topical acne treatment for the best results. They can talk to a doctor about side effects and how well the treatment is working.

While some studies have found that minocycline can improve acne, others suggest it is not superior to alternative prescription acne treatments. A person should talk with their doctor about which acne treatment may work best for them.