How Long Does Doxycycline Stay in Your System?

Some medications may require you to avoid certain things to prevent harm to yourself and ensure the medicine works effectively. Because of this, knowing how long a medication remains in your system is helpful since it lingers even after the final dose is taken.

When it comes to doxycycline, it can remain in your system for five or more days, with certain factors increasing the time it takes the body to metabolize it.

Table of Contents

What Is Doxycycline?

Doxycycline (Monodox) is a tetracycline antibiotic used to treat a range of bacterial infections. It accomplishes this by preventing bacteria from producing the proteins they need to survive and grow, which then causes them to die.

Doxycycline Uses

Some of the bacterial infections that doxycycline may be prescribed to treat include:

  • typhus
  • respiratory tract infections (from influenza, Hemophilus, streptococcus, or mycoplasma pneumonia)
  • gonorrhea
  • chancroid
  • non-gonococcal urethritis
  • anthrax
  • cholera
  • acne
  • brucellosis
  • rocky mountain spotted fever
  • Lyme disease
  • actinomycosis
  • urinary tract infections
  • periodontal disease
  • syphilis
  • chlamydia

Doxycycline may also be used in those with rosacea to reduce inflammation or in those traveling to high-risk areas of malaria as a preventative.

Doxycycline side effects

Some of the side effects of doxycycline include:

  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • back pain
  • anxiety
  • sore throat
  • dry mouth
  • loss of appetite
  • swollen tongue

Doxycycline is also associated with some severe, although less common, side effects, including:

  • chest pain
  • blurred vision
  • hives
  • skin redness
  • skin peeling
  • joint pain
  • headache
  • skin blistering
  • rash with fever
  • unusual bleeding or bruising

Anyone experiencing these severe side effects should seek immediate medical attention.

One potentially serious side effect of doxycycline is increased sensitivity to the sun. Because of this, it is essential to avoid prolonged sun exposure while on doxycycline, and if you do go outside, wear sunglasses, sunscreen, and protective clothing.

How Long Does Doxycycline Stay in Your System?

Doxycycline has a half-life with an average time of 12-25 hours. It’s estimated that, after taking your final dose of a medication, it takes 4-5 half-lives for it to be out of your system. Based on this, it can take more than five days for doxycycline to be entirely out of your system.

What Affects the Time Doxycycline Stays in Your System?

Many elements can affect how long it takes the body to clear doxycycline, or any antibiotic, from your system.

Health

Your health can affect how well your body is able to absorb and metabolize drugs.

One health condition that can affect metabolism is diabetes, and that is because it is a metabolic disorder and may affect how to body absorbs, metabolizes, and excretes medication.

Doxycycline may also take longer to leave your system if your kidneys filter more slowly or if you have liver disease. In addition, some people may have genetic variants that affect the cytochrome P450 cycle and how it metabolizes drugs.

Age

As you get older, your body cannot metabolize as quickly and efficiently. One reason for this is that the muscle-to-fat ratio tends to increase towards fat, which can increase the medication half-life. Additionally, those who are older may not be able to absorb doxycycline as well, which can influence how long it remains in the body.

Dosage

Your prescribed dosage can affect how long it remains in your system. For example, a higher dose will take longer to be removed.

Doxycycline Interactions and Risks

One of the potential interactions with doxycycline is alcohol, but this is typically only in those with liver problems or a history of chronic drinking or heavy alcohol use. In these individuals, alcohol and doxycycline interact, making doxycycline less effective. This may be because alcohol shortens the half-life of doxycycline, making it so that it does not remain in the body (fighting the infection) for as long.

Other medications and supplements that can interact with doxycycline include:

  • calcium supplements
  • laxatives with magnesium
  • antacids

These medications and supplements can make doxycycline less effective, so it is recommended not to take these products within 1-2 hours before or after taking doxycycline.

Iron preparations and vitamins containing iron can also interact with doxycycline, so avoid taking them within 2-3 hours before and after taking doxycycline.

Some other things to check with your doctor before taking while on doxycycline include:

  • diuretics
  • proton pump inhibitors
  • anticoagulants
  • lithium
  • bismuth subsalicylate
  • anticonvulsants
  • retinoids
  • barbiturates
  • vitamin A supplements

Additionally, it is not safe for pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding to take doxycycline unless their doctor determines the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

How Long Do the Side Effects of Doxycycline Last After Stopping?

Most of the side effects of doxycycline, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, will improve within a few days of discontinuing. However, sun sensitivity can last for 10-14 days after you finish your prescription, so it is important to remain careful when in the sun during these two weeks.

When To See a Doctor?

It is always recommended to see a doctor whenever you suspect you have an infection since antibiotics are the most effective, and sometimes the only, treatment.

Online doctors provide a quick and convenient resource for those who think they have an infection. With DrHouse, you can meet with a doctor in just 15 minutes to discuss your symptoms and receive a prescription, if needed.

If at any time of taking doxycycline you experience severe side effects, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Key Takeaways

Doxycycline is an antibiotic prescribed to treat a range of bacterial infections. The most common side effects of doxycycline revolve around stomach upset, but they often go away within a few days of finishing your prescription.

With a half-life of 12-25 hours, doxycycline may remain in your system for more than five days after finishing your prescription. Some factors affecting how long it takes the body to remove doxycycline include age, health, and dosage.

For those experiencing unpleasant side effects of doxycycline, discussing this with a doctor is always recommended since there are risks that can occur with stopping your prescription too soon.

References

  • Randhawa, A., Ngu, I., & Bilsland, D. (2018). Doxycycline photosensitivity. QJM: An International Journal Of Medicine, 111(4), 259-260. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1093/qjmed/hcy001  
  • Doxycycline: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (2022). https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682063.html  
  • Del Rosso, J., Brantman, S., & Baldwin, H. (2021). Long‐term inflammatory rosacea management with subantibiotic dose oral doxycycline 40 mg modified‐release capsules once daily. Dermatologic Therapy, 35(1). doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1111/dth.15180  
  • Cunha, B., Domenico, P., & Cunha, C. (2000). Pharmacodynamics of doxycycline. Clinical Microbiology And Infection, 6(5), 270-273. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1046/j.1469-0691.2000.00058-2.x  
  • Neuvonen, P. J., Penttilä, O., Roos, M., & Tirkkonen, J. (1976). Effect of long-term alcohol consumption on the half-life of tetracycline and doxycycline in man. International journal of clinical pharmacology and biopharmacy, 14(4), 303–307. PMID: 1002368.
  • Yates, P. A., Newman, S. A., Oshry, L. J., Glassman, R. H., Leone, A. M., & Reichel, E. (2020). Doxycycline treatment of high-risk COVID-19-positive patients with comorbid pulmonary disease. Therapeutic advances in respiratory disease, 14, 1753466620951053. https://doi.org/10.1177/1753466620951053 

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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