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Minocycline is a prescription-strength, oral antibiotic that can be used as a treatment for moderate to severe forms of acne. Overall, taking minocycline for acne can reduce flare-ups and infections, but there is controversy regarding its potential side effects. These side effects range from loss of appetite to a condition that causes pressure on the brain.
Acne occurs when a build up of excess oil and bacteria blocks the skin's pores and causes them to become infected. What causes this to occur isn’t fully understood. What is understood is how it works: minocycline — being an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drug — thwarts acne by killing the bacteria causing the infection.
One of the pros of using minocycline for acne is its ability to treat nodular and cystic types of the skin condition. Nodular acne induces hard lump-like lesions under the skin while cystic acne causes deep, pus-filled abscesses. Both kinds are painful and leave deep scarring. Minocycline reduces the bacterial infections associated with these severe forms of acne and, because of its anti-inflammatory properties, lessens pain and swelling.
Other pros of minocycline include its ability to alleviate a wide range of infections and inflammation. Minocycline can improve other skin infections, such as Lyme disease or Staph infection. It is also used to treat some sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Minocycline also reduces inflammation in various types of arthritis.
Most of the minocycline cons are found in its side effects, which can range from moderate to severe. Minocycline can cause a condition that creates high pressure in the brain. This pressure, in turn, can result in varying degrees of dizziness. Other side effects include drowsiness, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and soreness of the mouth, throat or tongue.
Minocycline may cause severe allergic reactions leading to swelling in the lips, face or tongue, which can make breathing difficult. Fever, bloody stools, vision and hearing changes, unusual bleeding and bruising are more serious side effects that could occur. Rarer effects include liver and kidney damage.
Cons of minocycline for acne also may include a bluish to grayish discoloration of the skin, lips, tongue, gums or teeth. This is usually reversed as soon as the medication is stopped. Minocycline may also cause increase sensitivity to the sun.
Another con of minocycline for acne includes numerous interactions with other drugs, which can cause additional side effects or cause one or both drugs to be less effective. These include but aren’t limited to birth control pills, penicillin and retinoid medications, as well as non-prescription medications such as herbal and nutritional supplements. A discussion with a physician regarding drug intake can overcome this problem.