Minocycline for Acne
Few people make it through life without experiencing some degree of acne. When your sebaceous glands secrete too much oil, hair follicles plug, bacteria build up and pimples occur. Hormones, genetics and even environmental pollutants contribute to outbreaks. While acne is not typically a serious medical issue, severe outbreaks can cause permanent scarring and significant emotional distress. Doctors often use a combination of topical therapies and oral antibiotics, such as minocycline, to reduce the complications of severe acne.
Because antibiotics are powerful drugs that can carry serious side effects, health-care providers limit their use whenever possible. For mild acne that produces smaller areas of whiteheads and blackheads closer to the skin surface, your physician will likely prescribe topical medications such as benzoyl peroxide. Doctors generally categorize acne as severe and possibly requiring treatment with oral antibiotics when it covers larger areas and produces numerous pustular or cystic lesions that can cause extensive damage to the skin.
Oral antibiotics work by limiting the growth of bacteria and decreasing the inflammation associated with cystic or pustular acne. Minocycline, a synthetic derivative of tetracycline, has been a mainstay of oral acne treatment for years, according to Acne Net. It has a history of reliably treating lesions that do not respond to other oral antibiotics. Minocycline also seems to create less antibiotic resistance, which is often a problem in long-term antibiotic therapy for severe acne.
Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark patches on the tongue, vaginal itching, dizziness and ringing in the ears. Minocycline can also increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun, increasing the risk of sunburn even with minimal exposure. Other serious side effects include severe headache, difficulty breathing, skin rash or hives, fever, chills and decreased urination, according to Medline Plus. You should stop this medication and call your doctor if you develop any of these symptoms.
Like any prescription medication, you should take minocycline as directed by your physician. Successful treatment for severe acne generally takes combination therapy that includes topical ointments and washes, gentle cleansing regimens and oral antibiotics. Minocycline alone or sporadic use of this antibiotic will not bring optimal treatment results. It may take several weeks before you notice improvement, even with combination treatment, and your doctor may need to try several therapies before finding one that clears your skin.
The website Drugs.com warns that pregnant women cannot take minocycline since it can harm the fetus, including permanent discoloration of the teeth later in life. It also passes into breast milk and can affect bone and tooth development in nursing babies. Minocycline reduces the effectiveness of birth control pills. Check labels carefully regarding expiration dates, since taking expired minocycline can cause kidney damage.
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