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Doxycycline is a prescription antibiotic used to treat a wide variety of infections, including chest, dental, skin, and sexually transmitted infections. It’s one of the most widely prescribed antibiotics in the United States, with millions of people taking the medication each year.
The list of conditions that doxycycline is used for is extensive. You may take it if you have acne or an eye infection or if you get an infection from contaminated water. It’s even used to prevent malaria and treat anthrax.
It comes in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, and dissolvable tablets that you take with water. The treatment period is relatively short, with most people beginning to feel better after a few days of starting the course of antibiotics, but it’s important to take the full course, even if you’re no longer showing symptoms.
Generic brand names for doxycycline include Vibramycin, Monodox, Oracea, Doryx, Adoxa, and Periostat.
What Is Doxycycline Prescribed For?
Doxycycline can be considered something of a miracle medication, not only because of its effectiveness but because of the sheer number of conditions that it can be used for.
It’s most commonly prescribed for people who have a chest, skin, or urinary tract infection, but it’s one of the most versatile drugs that we have; listing everything that it’s used to treat would take up a page or more. It can be used to treat people who are allergic to penicillin, too.
How Does Doxycycline Work?
Doxycycline is a type of tetracycline antibiotic. These antibiotics work by targeting the bacteria that are causing the infection and preventing them from growing.
More specifically, the medication stops the bacteria from producing the protein they need to survive. That’s how it works when it’s used as part of treatment against interior infections. For bacterial conditions like acne, it reduces the volume of bacteria on the surface of the skin.
What Are the Side Effects of Doxycycline?
Most people who take doxycycline won’t experience any serious side effects. However, as with every other type of medication, there are mild side effects that are more common.
Studies have shown that around one in ten people who take doxycycline will experience side effects to varying degrees.
The most common side effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Light sensitivity
- Bloating or indigestion
- Dry mouth
- Teeth discoloration
Though it’s rare, some people do experience more severe side effects. These can include:
- Severe or bloody diarrhea
- Blistered or peeling skin
- Joint pain
- Chest pain
If you experience any of the above contact your doctor immediately as these can be serious and require medical attention. If you experience any chest pain or difficulty breathing, then seek emergency medical attention as soon as possible.
For more detailed information about Doxycycline, you can refer to the following sources:
- Doryx prescription label, Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Doxycycline, Drugs.com.
- Doxycycline, MedlinePlus.
The content on this page has been medically reviewed for accuracy and comprehensiveness by Amy Dougherty, FNP-BC, AGAC
Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.
Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.
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.
Frequently asked questions
Is Doxycycline Considered a Strong Antibiotic?
While the term “strong” is relative and somewhat misleading, because the efficacity of antibiotics is highly dependent on the type of infection and bacteria it’s being used against as well as the location of the actual infection.
But doxycycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which means it is effective against a wide range of infections. This makes it versatile for treating various kinds of infections.
What Is Doxycycline Usually Prescribed For?
As a broad-spectrum antibiotic, doxycycline can be prescribed to treat a wide range of infections such as:
- Respiratory Infections – such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and other respiratory tract infections.
- Skin Infections – such as acne, rosacea and cellulitis
- Sexually Transmitted Infections – such as chlamydia, and syphilis.
- Tick-borne Diseases – such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
- Urinary Tract Infections – Doxycycline is not a first-line treatment for UTIs but it is used in specific cases.
What Are the Most Common Side Effects of Doxycycline?
The most common side effects of Doxycycline are nausea, headaches, light sensitivity, loss of appetite, and bloating.
Note that the mentioned side effects are just some of the most common ones. There are also more serious, less common side effects that you should be aware of. These include severe or bloody diarrhea, fever, dehydration, blistered or peeling skin, and joint pain.
For a complete overview of side effects, always read the information leaflet that comes with your medication and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
How to Take Doxycycline?
How you take doxycycline will depend on why it has been prescribed to you. Typically doses are 100mg – 200mg, taken once or twice a day. If taking more than once a day, you should take one dose when you wake up and one when you go to bed.
For some conditions, the dose will be 40 mg, taken once a day. You can take it with or without food, though it’s sometimes recommended to take it with food because it reduces the chance of nausea.
Many people begin to feel better after a few days of taking doxycycline. However, as with all antibiotics, it’s important that you complete the full course of medication.
What Is the Typical Dosage for Doxycycline?
The dosage of doxycycline depends on the condition you are using it to treat. Typically, the dosage is 100mg – 200 mg per day, taken orally. In some cases, such as for the treatment of acne or rosacea, a lower dose may be prescribed (40 mg per day).
It’s important to take the medication as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist. You should not increase or decrease the dosage without consulting a medical professional first.
Who Should Not Take Doxycycline?
While doxycycline is a relatively safe antibiotic, there are certain people who should not take it such as pregnant women, breastfeeding women, people allergic to tetracycline antibiotics, and children under the age of 8.
Consult with your doctor if you are unsure whether or not doxycycline is safe for you.
What to Avoid While Taking Doxycycline?
There are some medications that will negatively interact with doxycycline. These include:
- Other antibiotics
- Some acne medicines
It’s also important to tell your healthcare provider if you’re taking supplements that include zinc, aluminum, calcium, or magnesium. You should also avoid consuming dairy products at the same time you take the medication (wait a few hours).
Also, note that the mentioned foods and medications are just some of the things to avoid while taking doxycycline. Before beginning any medication, always consult with your pharmacist or doctor for a complete list of what to avoid.
Can You Get Doxycycline Over-The-Counter (OTC)?
No, Doxycycline is not available over-the-counter. You’ll need a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider to get doxycycline.
Can You Get Doxycycline Online?
Yes, you can get doxycycline online. With DrHouse you can get an online prescription for doxycycline from the comfort of your own home. All you need to do is download our telehealth app and start an on-demand video consultation with one of our licensed doctors. After the doctor assesses your condition they can issue you a prescription for doxycycline if clinically appropriate.
How Do I Get an Online Prescription for Doxycycline?
Getting an online prescription with DrHouse is easy. All you need to do is:
- Sign up
- Download our telehealth app
- Fill in your medical history
- Start an on-demand video consultation
Once you have started a consultation, our licensed doctor will assess your condition and determine if doxycycline is the best treatment option for you. If the doctor deems it clinically appropriate, they can issue you a prescription for doxycycline. The prescription will either be sent to your chosen pharmacy or you can have it delivered directly to your doorstep.