Does Doxycycline work for Acne?

04-03-2019

Doxycycline for acne.

In a word, yes. Doxycycline can certainly work for acne though as each case of acne differs from person to person, and what works for one may not work for another, the outcome will be personalised to you.

One study in the ‘Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology’ states that “doxycycline and minocycline are the most commonly prescribed tetracyclines in dermatology…[due to] a long overall favourable track record of effectiveness and safety…” which is very positive news.  It has been used to treat this non-infectious skin disease for over 60 years, but acne being what it is, cannot be ‘cured’ - it can only be treated and eased.

What Is Acne?

It might surprise you to know that we all have ‘acne’, or, more accurately, Propionibacterium Acnes, living in our skin and in some individuals, this P.acnes can overgrow and develop into the inflamed weeping sores and spots which are known as acne. 

What Is Propionibacterium Acnes?

Propionibacterium acnes is a parasitic organism which lives within the skin feeding on the sebum deep within our pores generally causing no harm.  It has actually been considered to hold some health benefits over the years including in the 80’s when P. acnes was used to activate and stimulate the innate immune response against cancer cells.and it is believed that those suffering from severe acne may develop a natural protection against diseases such as malaria!

But unfortunately, for the majority of people suffering from acne, this offers little comfort.

So Why Do Some People Develop Acne And Others Do not?

According to the study of P. acnes, it seems to be luck of the draw.  Since the majority of people have the bacteria P. acnes in the skin, it is only when it finds a favourable ‘terrain’, such as an oily build-up within the pores to feed on, that it colonises and the skin develops inflamed acne lesions usually found on the face, neck and upper back.

The antibody against P.Acnes is found in the blood and there have been studies looking at how these antibodies can help to limit and even prevent acne from developing.  The authors of one such study have gone so far as to suggest that one day there may be a way to develop an immunity against acne altogether but for now, on-going treatment with the support of a GP, health expert or dermatologist is our best way to fight this very common skin disease.

How Can My Acne Be Treated?

Treatment for acne comes in different methods and strengths depending on the level of your case:

  • over the counter treatments ideal for mild cases
  • topical retinoids
  • topical antibiotics
  • azelaic acid
  • antibiotic tablets
  • in women, the combined oral contraceptive pill
  • isotretinoin tablets
  • non-pharmaceutical treatments including chemical peels and comedone extractor pens

If topical treatments alone have not worked, the oral antibiotic doxycycline is generally the next option to be used alongside a topical supplement such as Benzoyl peroxide or retinoic acid. 

Doxycycline helps remove the bacteria in the pores and the topical drug eases the oil production  meaning that these two drugs together create a healthier skin environment making it less able to breakout. 

I Read There Are Side Effects! How Can I Avoid Or Ease Them? 

As with any medication, side effects can occur and doxycycline is no different.  Some side effects may ease over time as the body becomes accustomed to the drug though anything extreme or affecting your lifestyle must be discussed with your GP immediately. 

Here is a closer look at some of the most common side effects of doxycycline and the best way to ease or stop them:

Photosensitivity

Chemical changes in the skin from taking doxycycline can cause sensitivity to light which is known as a phytotoxic reaction and can be seen as a rash or severe burning.

  • Corticosteroid cream can be prescribed if inflammation occurs
  • Cover and protect your skin with long sleeves, hats and sunglasses in hot weather.
  • Use sunscreen to protect your skin even if the sun is not out.

Reflux

The sphincter muscle is found between the oesophagus and stomach and doxycycline can affect its ability to work effectively.

  • Avoid coffee or fried and fatty foods
  • Quit smoking
  • Stay upright after eating
  • Sleep on raised cushions.

Stomach Irritation

Doxycycline can weaken the stomach linings’ ability to resist acid potentially leading to gastritis or ulcers.

  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid spicy food
  • Use antacids (note: anything containing magnesium, aluminium or calcium can make the drug less effective.  As such, take the doxycycline 2 hours prior to the antacid, or 6 hours after)

Constipation

The muscle and nerve activity in the large intestine due to doxycycline can cause slow, sometimes painful stool passage.

  • Eat a balanced diet including fresh vegetables
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Exercise regularly
  • Ask your GP for a laxative if necessary

Diarrhoea

Bacteria is usually present in the large intestine, but antibiotics can affect the levels of the bacteria C.difficile which can induce diarrhoea.

  • Whilst taking doxycycline, keep a food diary to uncover which food causes your diarrhoea
  • Take probiotics two hours before taking doxycycline to help replenish and rebalance the presence of the normal bacteria.
  • In the case of a bacterial infection in the intestine, a further antibiotic may be required.

No matter what treatment route you choose to go down, it generally takes several weeks to a few months to see real results in your skin, so it’s important to work closely with your health professional and take their advice.

You can order treatment for acne at Click Pharmacy and purchase a prescription of doxycycline via a confidential and free online consultation.