Doxycycline is an antibiotic drug that kills a wide, weird and wonderful range of bugs that are often difficult to treat with other antibiotics. These include bacteria and parasites that take up residence inside our cells (called “intracellular organisms”), making them hard for most antibiotics to reach.
Doxycycline was invented and clinically developed in the early 1960s by Pfizer Inc., New York, and marketed under the brand name Vibramycin. Vibramycin received FDA approval in 1967, becoming Pfizer’s first once-a-day broad-spectrum antibiotic. Doxycycline is in a class of medications called tetracycline antibiotics. It works to treat infections by preventing the growth and spread of bacteria. It works to treat acne by killing the bacteria that infects pores and decreasing a certain natural oily substance that causes acne. It works to treat rosacea by decreasing the inflammation that causes this condition.
What is doxycycline used for?
Doxycycline is used to treat infections caused by bacteria, including pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections; certain infections of the skin or eye; infections of the lymphatic, intestinal, genital, and urinary systems; and certain other infections that are spread by ticks, lice, mites, infected animals, or contaminated food and water. It is also used along with other medications to treat acne.
Doxycycline is also used to treat or prevent anthrax (a serious infection that may be spread on purpose as part of a bioterror attack), in people who may have been exposed to anthrax in the air, and to treat plague and tuleramia (serious infections that may be spread on purpose as part of a bioterror attack). It is also used to prevent malaria. Doxycycline can also be used in people who cannot be treated with penicillin to treat certain types of food poisoning. Doxycycline (Oracea) is used only to treat pimples and bumps caused by rosacea (a skin disease that causes redness, flushing, and pimples on the face).
What side effects can this medication cause?
Doxycycline may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- loss of appetite
- itching of the rectum or vagina
- sore or irritated throat
- swollen tongue
- dry mouth
- back pain
- changes in color of skin, scars, nails, eyes, or mouth
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- blurred vision, seeing double, or loss of vision
- rash that may occur with fever or swollen glands
- skin redness, peeling or blistering
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- swelling of the eyes, face, throat, tongue, or lips
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- watery or bloody stools, stomach cramps, or fever during treatment or for up to two or more months after stopping treatment
- a return of fever, sore throat, chills, or other signs of infection
- joint pain
- chest pain
- discoloration of permanent (adult) teeth
Doxycycline may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and laboratory. Your doctor will want to check your response to doxycycline.
Before having any laboratory test, tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking doxycycline.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Your prescription is probably not refillable. If you still have symptoms of infection after you finish the doxycycline, call your doctor.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.