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How Effective Is Doxycycline for Rosacea?

By Lee Johnson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Doxycycline for rosacea is an effective treatment, taking into account the fact that this condition does not have a cure. Although the condition will never entirely clear up, doxycycline can help remove the inflammatory lesions associated with the condition. Initial problems found with taking antibiotics over a long period can be offset by the use of a reduced dosage when treating rosacea. The recommended dosage of doxycycline for rosacea is about 40 milligrams per day. This reduces the inflammation but does not constitute an antibiotic dosage, which can cause issues.

Classed as a synthetic antibiotic, doxycycline can be used for a variety of bacterial infections and conditions, such as cholera, typhus and acne. The drug is made from tetracycline, and it prevents the bacteria that is present with these conditions from producing proteins. These proteins are vital to the bacteria’s survival, so the treatment effectively kills the bacteria. Doxycycline is available in various strengths of capsules and tablets. A dosage of 40 milligrams per day is referred to as an anti-inflammatory dose and useful for conditions that require long-term treatment.

Rosacea is a frequently ignored condition that is characterized by an acne-like cluster of red bumps or pimples on the face. The condition also generally presents with visible blood vessels on the face and irritated, watery eyes. Surveys have found that many people do not know about the condition and wouldn’t be able to identify it. Medicine has no known cure for the condition, so using drugs such as doxycycline for rosacea is done only to manage the symptoms it. For this reason, there is a limit to the effectiveness of any drug for treating rosacea.

The use of doxycycline for rosacea is generally done only in more serious instances of the condition. The treatment typically is offered during flare-ups of the condition, and the ordinary treatment of the condition through topical creams continues after the outbreak has died down. Doctors have learned that a low dose of doxycycline can help to reduce the inflammations without exposing the patient to the risks associated with long-term antibiotic use. Doxycycline for rosacea does not remove the redness associated with the condition, but studies have shown that low doses can effectively control the inflammation over an extended period of time.

Long-term use of antibiotics can result in some bacteria surviving and developing immunity to antibiotic treatments. This can lead to infections that are very difficult to treat and that could cause serious complications. The low dose of doxycycline offered for patients suffering from rosacea doesn’t constitute an antibiotic dosage, so the drug is essentially used as an anti-inflammatory. Possible side effects of even low-dose doxycycline include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

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Discussion Comments
By pastanaga — On May 06, 2014

@irontoenail - I've heard that one of the more effective ways of treating acne rosacea is to make changes to the gut bacteria so that certain kinds of reduced and others increase in population. I wonder if that is what is happening when people take a low dose of doxycycline, since it is an antibiotic and it must have some kind of effect, however slight, on intestinal bacteria.

On the other hand, if that is the issue, it seems a little bit reckless to be essentially rearranging gut flora without any clue as to which ones are beneficial and which aren't, or even which ones are being killed and which aren't. I guess if you've got no other options, it's not a bad thing to do, but I wish they knew more about this.

By irontoenail — On May 05, 2014

@pleonasm - Doxycycline isn't really very harsh as medications go, so I'd imagine it would be a good port of call for people to try if they are having problems with rosacea. I actually think that it probably helps in some cases and not in others because scientists don't really understand what causes it in the first place, so they don't know what the medication is actually treating.

By pleonasm — On May 04, 2014

I had to take doxycycline as an antimalarial drug while I was living in West Africa and I found that it was somewhat effective at clearing my skin, but more so on acne than acne rosacea. I have both, but neither is very severe so I can't really speak to how doxy would be for a bad outbreak.

I just remember I was a bit disappointed because I was hoping I'd end up with perfect skin and that didn't quite happen. Although I guess since I was in different conditions my skin was probably under more stress than usual so that might have added to the problem.

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