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Know the basics|Know the precautions & warnings|Know the side effects|Know the interactions|Understand the dosage

Know the basics

What is doxycycline used for?

This doxycycline is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections, including those that cause acne. Doxycycline is also used to prevent malaria. Doxycycline is known as a tetracycline antibiotic. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria.

Doxycycline treats only bacterial infections. It will not work for viral infections (such as common cold, flu). Unnecessary use or misuse of any antibiotic can lead to its decreased effectiveness.

OTHER USES: This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your healthcare professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.

This drug may also be used to treat a certain skin condition (rosacea).

How should I take doxycycline?

Doxycycline is best taken by mouth on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal, usually 1 or 2 times daily or as directed by your doctor. Take doxycycline with a full glass of water (8 ounces/240 millilitres) unless directed otherwise. If stomach upset occurs, taking it with food or milk may help. However,doxycycline may not work as well if you take it with food or milk (or anything high incalcium – more details below ), so ask your doctor or pharmacist if you may take it that way. Do not lie down for 10 minutes after taking doxycycline.

Take doxycycline 2 to 3 hours before or after taking any products containing aluminum, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, or bismuth subsalicylate. Some examples include antacids, didanosine solution, quinapril, vitamins/minerals, dairy products (such as milk, yogurt), and calcium-enriched juice. These products bind with doxycycline, preventing your body from fully absorbing the drug.

When taken to prevent malaria, doxycycline is usually taken once daily. Take the first dose of doxycycline 1 to 2 days before travel or as directed by your doctor. Continue to take doxycycline daily while in the malarious area. Upon returning home, you should keep taking doxycycline for 4 more weeks. If you are unable to finish this course of doxycycline, contact your doctor.

If you are using the liquid form of doxycycline, shake the bottle well before each dose. Carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. For children, the dosage may also be based on weight.

Antibiotics work best when the amount of medicine in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals.

Continue to take doxycycline until the full prescribed amount is finished, even if symptoms disappear after a few days. Stopping doxycycline too early may allow bacteria to continue to grow, which may result in a return of the infection.

Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.

How do I store doxycycline?

Doxycycline is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store doxycycline in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of doxycycline that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush doxycycline down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using doxycycline?

Before taking doxycycline,

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline, sulfites (for doxycycline syrup only), or any other medications.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially antacids, anticoagulants (‘blood thinners’) such as warfarin (coumadin), carbamazepine (tegretol), penicillin, phenobarbital, phenytoin (dilantin), and vitamins. Doxycycline decreases the effectiveness of some oral contraceptives; another form of birth control should be used while taking this drug.
  • Be aware that antacids, calcium supplements, iron products, and laxatives containing magnesium interfere with doxycycline, making it less effective. Take doxycycline 1 hour before or 2 hours after antacids (including sodium bicarbonate), calcium supplements, and laxatives containing magnesium. Take doxycycline 2 hours before or 3 hours after iron preparations and vitamin products that contain iron.
  • Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had diabetes or kidney or liver disease.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking doxycycline, call your doctor immediately. Doxycycline can harm the fetus.
  • If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking doxycycline.
  • Plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Doxycycline may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.
  • You should know that when you are receiving doxycycline for prevention of malaria, you should also use protective measures such as effective insect repellent, mosquito nets, clothing covering the whole body, and staying in well-screened areas, especially from early nighttime until dawn. Taking doxycycline does not give you full protection against malaria.
  • You should know that when doxycycline is used during pregnancy or in babies or children up to age 8, it can cause the teeth to become permanently stained. Doxycycline should not be used in children under age 8 except for inhalational anthrax or if your doctor decides it is needed.

Is it safe to take doxycycline during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking doxycycline. Doxycycline is pregnancy risk category D according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown

Women should not take this medication while pregnant as it may have adverse effects on the fetus. Short-term use while lactating is acceptable and will not likely result in adverse reactions on the infant.

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of doxycycline?

Common side effects include stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • Severe headache, dizziness, blurred vision;
  • Fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, swollen glands, rash or itching, joint pain, or general ill feeling;
  • Urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • Diarrhea that is watery or bloody
  • Pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, fever, confusion or weakness;
  • Severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;
  • Loss of appetite, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
  • Severe skin reaction — fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.

Less serious side effects may include: mild nausea, mild diarrhea; upset stomach; mild skin rash or itching; or vaginal itching or discharge.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with doxycycline?

Doxycycline may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Using doxycycline with Acitretin is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with doxycycline or change some of the other medicines you take.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases: Amoxicillin, Ampicillin, Bacampicillin, Bexarotene, Cloxacillin, Dicloxacillin, Digoxin, Etretinate, Isotretinoin, Methicillin, Methotrexate, Nafcillin, Oxacillin, Penicillin G, Penicillin G Benzathine, Penicillin G Procaine, Penicillin V, Piperacillin, Pivampicillin, Sultamicillin, Temocillin, Tretinoin . If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you: Aluminum Carbonate, Basic, Aluminum Hydroxide, Aluminum Phosphate, Bismuth Subsalicylate, Calcium, Dihydroxyaluminum Aminoacetate, Dihydroxyaluminum Sodium Carbonate, Iron, Magaldrate, Magnesium Carbonate, Magnesium Hydroxide, Magnesium Oxide, Magnesium Trisilicate, Rifampin, Rifapentine. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Does food or alcohol interact with doxycycline?

Doxycycline may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Never take this medication with food or supplements that contain minerals such as calcium and magnesium as it may decrease the available amount of drug in the body and lower its efficacy. Take doxycycline 1-2 hours before eating or taking a supplement or 2-3 hours after eating or supplement intake. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with doxycycline?

Doxycycline may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Asthma—Vibramycin® syrup contains sodium metabisulfite, which can cause allergic and life-threatening reactions in patients with this condition;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Vaginal candidiasis (yeast) infections—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse;
  • Kidney problems—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body;

Understand the dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using doxycycline.

What is the dose of doxycycline for an adult?

The usual dose of oral doxycycline is 200 mg on the first day of treatment (administered 100 mg every 12 hours or 50 mg every 6 hours) followed by a maintenance dose of 100 mg/day.

The maintenance dose may be administered as a single dose or as 50 mg every 12 hours. In the management of more severe infections (particularly chronic infections of the urinary tract), 100 mg every 12 hours is recommended.

  • Uncomplicated gonococcal infections in adults (except anorectal infections in men): 100 mg, by mouth, twice a day for 7 days. As an alternate single visit dose, administer 300 mg stat followed in one hour by a second 300 mg dose.
  • Acute epididy mo-orchitis caused by gonorrhoeae: 100 mg, by mouth, twice a day for at least 10 days.
  • Primary and secondary syphilis: 300 mg a day in divided doses for at least 10 days.
  • Uncomplicated urethral, endocervical, or rectal infection in adults caused by Chlamydia trachomatis: 100 mg, by mouth, twice a day for at least 7 days.
  • Nongonococcal urethritis caused by trachomatis and U. urealyticum: 100 mg, by mouth, twice a day for at least 7 days.
  • Acute epididy mo-orchitis caused by trachomatis: 100 mg, by mouth, twice a day for at least 10 days.
  • Inhalational anthrax (post-exposure): ADULTS: 100 mg of doxycycline, by mouth, twice a day for 60 days. CHILDREN: weighing less than 100 pounds (45 kg); 1 mg/lb (2.2 mg/kg) of body weight, by mouth, twice a day for 60 days. Children weighing 100 pounds or more should receive the adult dose.
  • When used in streptococcal infections, therapy should be continued for 10 days.

What is the dose of doxycycline for a child?

The recommended dosage schedule for pediatric patients (>8years old, </= 45 kgs) is 2-5mg/kg/day divided into 1-2 doses , not to exceed 200mg/day.

How is doxycycline available?

Doxycycline is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Capsule, oral (hyclate): 20mg, 100mg
  • Capsule, oral (monohydrate): 50mg, 75mg, 100mg, 150mg
  • Capsule Delayed-Release, oral (monohydrate): 40mg
  • Capsule Delayed-Release particles, oral (hyclate): 100mg
  • Solution Reconstituted, Intravenous (hyclate): 100mg
  • Suspension Reconstituted, oral (monohydrate): 25mg/5ml (60ml)
  • Syrup, oral (calcium): 50mg/5ml
  • Tablet, oral (hyclate): 20mg, 100mg
  • Tablet, oral (monohydrate): 50mg, 75mg, 100mg
  • Tablet Delayed-Release, oral (hyclate): 75mg, 100mg, 150mg, 200mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of doxycycline, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Doxycycline (Oral Route). http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/doxycycline-oral-route/description/drg-20068229. Accessed June 22,2016.
Doxycycline. https://www.drugs.com/doxycycline.html. Accessed June 22,2016.

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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD on May 02, 2020
Medically reviewed by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD