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Doxycycline Side Effects

Kristin Hall, FNP

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 8/10/2020

As you hear the side effects of prescription medications rattled off at the end of a television commercial, you’ve no-doubt wondered how drug makers manage to make these tough sales.

Would you trade watery stools or increased risk of heart attack for relief from restless legs? Or how about one of our favorites — anal leakage? Or one of our least favorites — sudden death? 

Sometimes, it almost feels worth asking: “What’s the point?”

What Is Doxycycline? 

Doxycycline is an antibiotic drug of the tetracycline family of medications. It’s been in use for several decades, having been released and approved by the FDA in 1967. 

It is used to prevent malaria and treat people exposed to anthrax, but other common applications include the treatment of: adjunctive acne (but commonly prescribed off-label for moderate to severe acne), bumps caused by rosacea, food and waterborne bacterial infections, pneumonia and other respiratory infections, as well as infections of the eyes, skin, urinary, intestinal, lymphatic and genital systems. It’s also used to treat certain infections that are spread by lice, ticks, mites and contaminated food and water.  

Doxycycline must be obtained with a prescription and may be sold under the brand names Adoxa®, Adoxa CK®, Adoxa Pak®, Adoxa TT®, Doryx®, Monodox®, Oracea®, Periostat®, Vibramycin Hyclate®, Vibramycin Calcium® and Vibra-Tabs®. 

It comes in two varieties: doxycycline hyclate and doxycycline monohydrate and is available in the form of tablets, capsules, powder and liquid. You can read more on the two types in our guide: Doxycycline Hyclate vs. Monohydrate.

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Doxycycline Side Effects 

All prescription drugs come with a lengthy list of possible side effects. The likelihood you’ll experience all of them is slim. But some side effects may be more likely than others. The same can be said for doxycycline.

The most common side effect of doxycycline is diarrhea. However, other side effects that may occur while using doxycycline include:

  • Darkening of the skin, scars, teeth or gums

  • Sore patches on your lips, mouth or throat

  • Severe headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Changes in vision

  • Yeast infections

If you experience any of the above side effects, or if you experience mild diarrhea, vomiting, nausea or trouble swallowing, contact your healthcare provider.

If you experience painful side effects like severe diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever or bloody stools, reach out to your healthcare provider immediately.

Doxycycline Drug Interactions

Anytime you start a new medication, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider about all of the medications you’re currently taking.

They will be best suited to identify potential interactions, provide complete drug information and medical advice, as well as possibly suggest alternatives or adjust dosing quantities or schedules to minimize negative effects. 

Medications you’ll likely not want to take in conjunction with doxycycline include: 

  • Birth control

  • Blood thinners

  • Seizure medications

  • Antacid medications

  • Psoriasis medications

  • Penicillin

  • Bismuth subsalicylate (contained in Pepto Bismol®)

The National Institutes of Health additionally report that taking over the counter antacids; calcium, iron or magnesium supplements or laxatives can interfere with the effectiveness of doxycycline. 

They suggest taking the medication either two hours before or six hours after these other drugs or supplements. 

Doxycycline also interacts with dairy, which you can read more about in our blog.

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Additional Doxycycline Precautions 

Some people shouldn’t take doxycycline due to an increased risk of adverse events. If you’re seeing a new healthcare provider for your doxycycline prescription, make sure they know of all of your current and chronic diagnoses so they can best evaluate your risk.

If you have any of the following conditions, your healthcare provider may want to avoid doxycycline: 

Asthma: Some doxycycline formulas may contain an ingredient (metabisulfite) known to cause allergic and life-threatening reactions in patients with asthma. 

Kidney problems: The effects of doxycycline in these patients may be increased because of the body’s slower removal of the medication.

Intracranial hypertension: Could be aggravated by the effects of doxycycline. 

Likewise, recent surgery patients and those diagnosed with a yeast infection may see increased potential side effects or complications with the use of doxycycline. 

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take doxycycline.

For the complete list of doxycycline’s contraindications, go here

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.