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What is Minocycline?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 08, 2024
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Minocycline is a broad spectrum antibiotic medication in the tetracycline class. This medication can be used in the treatment of a wide variety of bacterial infections where a fast-acting antibiotic may be indicated. It is available by prescription only and should be taken exactly as directed to reduce the risk of side effects and minimize the development of antibiotic resistance. People with a history of allergic reactions to antibiotics should make sure their doctors are aware of this when prescriptions are being written, so a safe medication can be selected.

This medication is a form of bacteriostatic antibiotic. It works by damaging bacteria to slow their growth, but does not actively kill them. Controlling growth allows the immune system to start attacking the bacteria to kill them and clear them from the body. Common reasons to use minocycline include bacterial infections of the genitals, urinary tract, respiratory system, and skin. This medication is also used in the treatment of acne.

Patients can take minocycline by mouth in the form of tablets that should not be crushed or broken. Taking the medication with ample water is recommended. Common side effects can include nausea, dizziness, increased skin sensitivity, itching, feeling lightheaded, and vomiting. People on minocycline are usually more vulnerable to sunburn and should be careful outdoors while they take the medication. Because the drug can damage DNA, it is not recommended for use in pregnant women, as it can harm the developing fetus.

People with a history of lupus, hepatitis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may not be good candidates for this medication. Some studies suggest it can cause flareups and more rapid decline. If an alternative is available, a doctor will usually recommend trying that option first, before turning to minocycline. This is designed to reduce risks for the patient.

As with other antibiotic medications, it is very important to finish a course of minocycline. If a patient finds that side effects like vomiting become unbearable and result in multiple missed doses, a doctor can be consulted to see if management options are available or if the medication should be switched. Doctors usually prescribe enough medication for a complete course and there should be no minocycline left over if the dosage directions are followed. If a doctor decides to take a patient off the medication early, the excess medication should be safely disposed of, unless a doctor specifically directs the patient to save it. It may be possible to donate sealed containers to medical charities.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

By SteamLouis — On Aug 28, 2013

Minocycline is a good, strong antibiotic. But it makes me very dizzy. I have to take it before I go to bed, otherwise, I will be dizzy for hours.

Does everyone else have this too?

By stoneMason — On Aug 28, 2013

@ankara-- I'm on minocycline for acne too and my doctor told me not to drink. I've read online that it's acceptable to have maybe one drink while on this drug, but it's generally not recommended.

Apparently, alcohol reduces the effectiveness of the antibiotic and it's very hard on the liver because the liver has to process both at the same time. It might make the side effects of the drug worse too.

I've decided to avoid alcohol until my treatment is over.

By bluedolphin — On Aug 27, 2013

My doctor prescribed me minocycline for acne. I'm on the second day. I forgot to ask my doctor if I can drink alcohol while I'm on this. So is it okay to drink?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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