How does Minocycline work for acne and its side effects?

Minocycline for acne
Medically reviewed by Dr. Devindra Bhatt


Acne can be the reason for insecurities and worry for many young adults. Those persistent pimples and blemishes can wreak havoc on self-esteem and confidence. Fortunately, there are treatments available, one of which is minocycline. Minocycline is a medication commonly prescribed to tackle moderate to severe acne vulgaris in individuals aged 12 and older. Minocycline belongs to the class of tetracycline antibiotics, which either works by stopping bacterial growth or killing it completely. Although it effectively addresses bacterial infections, such as anthrax, it’s crucial to understand that minocycline is ineffective against viral infections. In this blog, we will explore minocycline’s efficacy in treating acne, the potential side effects that users should be aware of, and more.

Is minocycline effective for Acne?

When considering acne treatments, effectiveness is key. If you are wondering whether minocycline helps acne and what it does, keep reading. 

Minocycline has shown effectiveness in treating moderate to moderately severe inflammatory acne vulgaris. It’s a commonly used option in the array of treatments available for acne. However, it’s important to note that while minocycline can be beneficial, there isn’t solid evidence proving its superiority over other commonly prescribed therapies.

Typically, patients are advised to take the antibiotic for 2-3 months. However, noticeable improvements may be seen sooner, with many acne sufferers experiencing moderate enhancement within 6 to 8 weeks of starting treatment.

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How to use minocycline for acne treatment?

Swallow the minocycline, extended-release, or tablet whole with a full glass of water. Avoid crushing, breaking, or chewing the medication, which can alter its effectiveness. You may take minocycline with or without food. However, taking it with a meal can help reduce the risk of irritation or ulcers in the esophagus.

To ensure the infection is completely cleared and to prevent recurrence, continue taking minocycline for the full duration of the prescribed treatment, even if you start feeling better before completing the course. Stopping the medication prematurely can lead to the return of symptoms.

The minocycline dosage varies depending on the specific medical condition being treated and individual factors such as age and weight. Here are the typical dosage guidelines:

For Infections (Oral Capsules):

  • Adults: Initially, 200 milligrams (mg), followed by 100 mg every 12 hours. Some patients may have a different dosage regimen.
  • Children 8 years and older: Dosage is weight-based and determined by the doctor. The initial dose is typically 4 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight, followed by 2 mg per kg every 12 hours. The dosage should not exceed the usual adult dose.
  • Children younger than eight years: Minocycline use is not recommended.

For Acne Vulgaris (Extended-Release Capsules or Tablets):

  • Adults and children 12 years and older: Dosage is weight-based and determined by the doctor. The typical dose is 1 milligram (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day for 12 weeks.
  • Children 8 to 12 years: Dosage should be determined by the doctor.
  • Children younger than eight years: Minocycline use is not recommended.

Always consult your doctor for personalized dosage recommendations tailored to your needs and medical history.

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What are the benefits of minocycline for acne?

Minocycline offers several benefits in treating acne, making it a valuable option for many individuals with this skin condition.

Dual Action Against Acne: Minocycline effectively combats acne by addressing two key factors: bacterial overgrowth and inflammation. It kills Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), a bacteria commonly associated with acne development. Additionally, minocycline possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which help to alleviate redness and swelling associated with inflamed acne lesions.

“Minocycline possesses anti-inflammatory properties, which help to alleviate redness and swelling associated with inflamed acne lesions.” 

Says Dr. Mandy Liedeman
  • Targeted Treatment for Active Acne: It’s important to note that minocycline primarily targets active acne lesions rather than acne scars. It improves the skin condition and reduces the onset of new acne lesions by blocking the growth of bacteria. 
  • Control of Propionibacterium acnes: P. acnes is a naturally occurring bacteria on the skin. However, when it proliferates within pores, it can contribute to the development of acne. Minocycline aids in controlling the growth of P. acnes, thereby reducing the incidence and severity of acne breakouts.
  • Anti-inflammatory Properties: Besides its antibacterial effects, minocycline’s anti-inflammatory properties are significant in acne treatment. By mitigating inflammation within the skin, minocycline helps alleviate the discomfort and unsightliness associated with inflamed acne lesions.
  • Complementary Treatment Options: Depending on the severity and type of acne, your doctor may recommend combining minocycline with other acne treatments, such as topical creams or gels. This comprehensive approach ensures targeted acne treatment from multiple angles, enhancing efficacy and results.

Overall, minocycline’s ability to address bacterial proliferation and inflammation makes it a valuable therapeutic option for individuals seeking relief from acne symptoms. 

What to expect while taking minocycline for acne?

While minocycline can effectively treat acne, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects that may occur during treatment. Here are some possible side effects associated with minocycline use:

  • Swollen Tongue, which can cause discomfort and difficulty swallowing.
  • Digestive disturbances, including diarrhea.
  • Minocycline use has been linked to joint pain or stiffness in some individuals. 
  • Headaches are a common side effect associated with minocycline use. 
  • Allergic reactions, including hives or welts, may occur in response to minocycline. 
  • Some individuals may experience numbness or tingling in the skin. 
  • Skin rash is a potential side effect of minocycline treatment.
  • Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, maybe a side effect of minocycline use. 
  • Minocycline use has been associated with color changes, leading to dark urine. 
  • Some individuals may experience dryness of the mouth or throat.
  • Hair loss, although rare, has been reported as a side effect of minocycline treatment. 
  • Itching or irritation in the rectal or vaginal area may occur as a side effect of minocycline. 
  • Some individuals may experience mood changes, such as depression or anxiety.

It’s essential to discuss any concerns or side effects with your healthcare provider while taking minocycline for acne treatment. 

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How does minocycline react with other medications?

Some medications should not be used together with minocycline. Your doctor may decide to avoid treating you with minocycline if you are taking these medications, or they may adjust your treatment plan accordingly. Examples include:

Some medications may increase the risk of certain side effects when used together with minocycline. However, in certain situations, the benefits of using both drugs may outweigh the risks. Your doctor may adjust the doses or frequency of administration if both medications are prescribed together. Examples include

  • Aluminum-containing antacids
  • Calcium supplements
  • Iron supplements and vitamin A

Other Interactions:

  • Food and Timing: Certain medications may interact with minocycline when taken concurrently or around the same time. Your doctor may provide specific instructions regarding the timing of administration or dietary restrictions to minimize potential interactions.
  • Alcohol and Tobacco: Consuming alcohol or tobacco products while taking minocycline may increase the risk of certain side effects. Your doctor may advise you on the potential risks and guide minimizing these interactions.

It’s crucial to inform your healthcare provider about all medications, supplements, and herbal remedies you are currently taking before starting minocycline treatment. 

When should I see a doctor?

If your acne fails to improve after several months of minocycline treatment, seeking advice from a dermatologist is important. In such cases, a dermatologist may recommend switching to an alternative acne medication to achieve better results. Conversely, if minocycline proves effective in alleviating acne symptoms, your doctor may consider adjusting the dosage to prevent potential buildup in the body. It’s important to note that minocycline may take six to eight weeks to exhibit noticeable improvements in acne. 


Does acne come back after stopping minocycline?

Yes, acne is likely to return after discontinuing minocycline treatment. Your healthcare provider will typically recommend continuing with alternative medications to maintain clear skin post-minocycline treatment.

Who should not take minocycline for acne?

Minocycline is not recommended for children under eight years old, as safety and efficacy have not been established in this age group. Additionally, minocycline may cause permanent teeth discoloration and slow bone growth. Children younger than eight should not take this medication unless directed explicitly by their doctor.

What to avoid when taking minocycline?

Avoid medications containing calcium, magnesium, or iron within two hours of taking minocycline. Moreover, multivitamins, laxatives, and antacids should also be avoided, as these substances can interfere with the absorption of minocycline in the body.

Does minocycline clear acne forever?

Minocycline effectively treats acne by targeting bacteria and reducing inflammation. However, it only addresses active acne lesions and does not treat acne scars. Propionibacterium acnes, a common skin bacteria, can contribute to acne development when it builds up in pores. While minocycline can effectively manage acne symptoms, it is not a permanent solution, and acne may recur if treatment is discontinued.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Garner, Sarah E., Anne Eady, Cathy Bennett, John Norman Newton, Karen Thomas, and Catalin Mihai Popescu. “Minocycline for acne vulgaris: efficacy and safety.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 8 (2012).
  • Goulden, V., D. Glass, and W. J. Cunliffe. “Safety of long‐term high‐dose minocycline in the treatment of acne.” British Journal of Dermatology 134, no. 4 (1996): 693-695.
  • Martins, Ana M., Joana M. Marto, Jodi L. Johnson, and Emmy M. Graber. “A review of systemic minocycline side effects and topical minocycline as a safer alternative for treating acne and rosacea.” Antibiotics 10, no. 7 (2021): 757.

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