Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, MSCIS, MPhil, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 2/12/2022
If you’re someone who enjoys a glass of wine with dinner, or perhaps a couple of cocktails while out with friends, you’ll probably be curious about whether or not you can continue to consume alcohol when you’re prescribed a new medicine by your healthcare provider.
We’ve all heard about the pitfalls of alcohol’s interaction with certain drugs, from upset stomach to organ failure and much more.
Additionally, antibiotics are a particular class of drug with which alcohol use is commonly discouraged for similar reasons.
So what about doxycycline? Is it safe to consume alcohol during its use?
The short answer is — while it isn’t inherently unsafe, you may still choose to abstain.
Let’s jump in.
Doxycycline is an antibiotic that can be taken orally or via injection to treat bacterial infections. It is only available via prescription from a healthcare provider.
The range of diseases that doxycycline can be used to treat is quite wide, and includes pneumonia, acne, some sexually transmitted infections, malaria, and Lyme disease. It can also be prescribed to individuals who may have an allergic reaction to penicillin, to treat certain types of food poisoning.
Doxycycline works by inhibiting the growth and spread of the bacteria causing the bacterial infection.
In the case of acne, it works by not only killing the acne causing bacteria, but it also helps to reduce the amount of sebum in the skin — a critical component in the formation of acne. With rosacea, doxycycline reduces the inflammation causing the skin rash in order to reduce its occurrence over time.
Doxycycline is part of a class of drugs known as tetracyclines. Tetracyclines are antibiotics used in the treatment of bacterial infections. They work by inhibiting the bacteria’s ability to create protein, effectively preventing them from being able to grow or replicate.
For more details on this tetracycline, you can read our guide to Doxycycline Hyclate vs. Monohydrate.
Although doxycycline is widely used, there are some things you should know before using it.
Before prescribing doxycycline, your healthcare provider will want to know some details about your medical history including:
Any history of kidney, bowel or liver disease
Previous adverse effects from other antibiotics, medicines, or any allergies
If you have a lifestyle that requires frequent or prolonged exposure to sunlight
Doxycycline can make you more sensitive to the sun. Therefore, if you do have a lifestyle that requires exposure to sun, you’ll want to reduce that exposure and wear protective clothing and SPF protection when you are unable to. You also should avoid tanning bed use while taking doxycycline.
Your medical provider will also need to know about any medications you’re already taking, including supplements.
While you may not necessarily need to stop the use of other medications while taking doxycycline, your doctor may have recommendations on the timing of your consumption of other medications in order to avoid any complications.
Lastly, there are a host of common side effects you’ll want to keep an eye out for while you take doxycycline. These include:
Gastrointestinal issues like changes in appetite, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
Mouth and throat issues like dry mouth, sore throat, or swollen tongue
Itching of the rectum
Changes in the color of your mouth, eyes, nails, scars, or skin
The following side effects may indicate a severe reaction to the drug, and you should contact a healthcare professional if you experience any of them:
Difficulty with breathing or swallowing
Blurred or altered vision, including loss of vision
Chest pain or joint pain
Stomach cramps, watery or bloody stool, or fever
Skin rash, redness, or peeling including that which occurs with fever or swollen glands
Swelling in the throat, face, lips, tongue, or eyes
Return of infection symptoms like fever, sore throat, or chills
Bleeding or bruising that is unusual for you
Now that we’ve laid out some basic information for the consumption of doxycycline, let’s talk about whether or not you can consume alcohol with it.
It’s well known that alcohol in any quantity should definitely be avoided with certain antibiotics, such as metronidazole and tinidazole, due to the risk of adverse effects.
In the case of doxycycline, however, things are a bit different.
Ultimately, alcohol consumption should be avoided with doxycycline, but we were unable to find any research claiming that the combination would make you ill. However, alcohol does have the potential to delay the absorption of doxycycline in certain individuals, while chronic alcoholics may need to take a higher quantity of the drug in order for it to be effective.
Ultimately, you should consult with your healthcare provider about the combined use of alcohol and doxycycline to get the most accurate answer about your unique body.
As tempting as it may be to continue drinking alcohol while you take doxycycline to treat your acne, you’re best off avoiding the combination of the two.
Always consult with the healthcare provider who prescribed your medicine to get the best answer on whether or not you can safely consume alcohol with those medications.