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How Minocycline is Used to Treat Acne

by Christine GlasgowApril 14, 2017

It’s fair to say that anyone who suffers from acne and finds themselves dealing with pimples on a regular basis is unhappy about the situation. In a world that has become obsessed with things like taking the perfect selfie for social media and with the seemingly perfect visages of celebrities and models perfect skin is probably desired by all more than ever before.

For some though acne is about more than the occasional inflamed pimple of cluster of blackheads. Their acne is a serious skin condition, causing not just embarrassment and anxiety but even pain and infection. Many of those with very serious acne are teenagers but adults can be victims too. And for them the simple over the counter topical medications that work well for others barely seem to help at all. Which is why they seek a ‘stronger’ solution, including taking an antibiotic medication called minocycline.

What is Minocyline?

In medical terms minocycline is a broad-spectrum tetracycline antibiotic, a ‘family’ of antibiotics that have been in use for some time to treat all kinds of bacterial illnesses and conditions. It is considered one of the ‘gentler’ antibiotics and is often prescribed for longer term use as it takes longer to act than some of its more powerful chemical cousins. It has now been around for several decades and is considered to generally be very safe.

In addition to being a long used and widely accepted treatment for severe acne, minocycline is also used to combat all of the following:

  • Anthrax
  • Bubonic plague
  • Cholera
  • Periodontal disease
  • Respiratory infections such as pneumonia
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Rosacea
  • Syphilis
  • Urinary tract infections

Minocycline for Acne

It sounds rather odd – and maybe even a bit daunting – that an antibiotic that can be used to treat such ‘extreme’ conditions as anthrax, cholera and bubonic plague can also be used to treat a serious case of acne but that is exactly what doctors have been doing for years now.

One of the biggest causes of serious acne is resistant bacteria. For those suffering from mild acne acne causing bacteria can often be ‘killed off’ by topical over the counter treatments and even by some home remedy type solutions. Serious acne however sometimes calls for more drastic measures in order for the tough bacteria to be conquered.

Who Can Use Minocycline for Acne?

Minocycline is a serious medication and it, like most prescription medicines, does come along with a number of possible side effects, some of which are not very nice (more about that in a moment). Therefore usually a doctor will think – and want their patient to think – very carefully before prescribing a course of Minocycline to treat acne.

Antibiotics for acne is never used as a first step to treat even the most serious and unpleasant cases of acne. All of the more standard acne treatments should be tried first, as antibiotic treatment is considered something of a last resort. However, as some cases really do impact a patient’s quality of life – and not just their looks – doctors will consider it if conventional topical acne treatments are just not working.

Things to Consider About Minocycline for Acne

There are a number of things that anyone considering consulting with a doctor about using minocycline to help get rid of acne should know – and consider- before they do:

●      Minocycline is a long term treatment for serious acne, it may take weeks, or even months, for any difference to be noticeable.

●      Minocycline alone will not do the trick, it must be used in combination with traditional topical acne treatments.

●      Antibiotics all come with side effects and in addition the long term use of them can lead the body to build up a resistance to them that may make them less effective.

●      Some medications do interact negatively with minocycline, so for some that negative may outweigh the positive benefits.

●      Minocycline is not cheap, so adequate prescription drug coverage via a health insurance plan is a must for most people.

Minocyline Side Effects

As we mentioned earlier, minocycline does come along with its own set of possible side effects. These can include:

  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Lightheadedness,
  • Dizziness,
  • Unsteadiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained joint or muscle pain,
  • Nail discoloration
  • Skin discoloration
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Gum discoloration
  • Gum soreness
  • Increased skin sensitivity to the sun.

Obviously not everyone will experience all – or even some of these side effects, but they are fairly common. You doctor will explain more though, before deciding whether to proceed with the treatment.

How Minocycline for Acne is Taken

A doctor prescribing medication will determine exactly what dosage is right for you based on you your own physical makeup and medical history, but generally between 50 and 100mgs is prescribed to be taken twice a day.

For those who have taken antibiotics in the past to treat an infection twice daily may sound like a lot. In order for it to be most effective though the levels of minocycline in the bloodstream need to remain fairly consistent, thus the need for the more frequent dosing.

How long a patient remains on antibiotics for acne depends upon both the severity of the acne and the way the skin responds to treatment. In addition, few people stop the treatment ‘cold turkey’ they are gradually ‘weaned off’ the medication to minimize side effects and a worsening of acne.

Taking a course of antibiotics for a long period of time – and possibly suffering through some of the side effects that it may cause – is not an easy thing to do and it’s not something to be taken lightly. Usually however a doctor will only even suggest a patient is a candidate when all else seems to be failing and will almost certainly insist that other avenues of treatment are pursued first.

Now we’d like to hear from some of you. Have you ever taken minocycline for acne? Is it something that has been suggested to you but you’ve yet to try? We love to hear about your real life experiences so do feel free to share them with us.

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