Minocycline for Acne: What to Know, According to Dermatologists

Linda Rider

Flashback to my teenage years and I had terrible, inflammatory cystic acne that refused to cooperate. Should I have considered Accutane? Probably. But instead I tried topicals like they were going out of style and cycled through every skincare routine under the sun—to no avail. Then, my dermatologist wrote me a prescription for Minocycline. “Minocycline is a type of antibiotic and is used to treat certain kinds of bacteria on the skin,” says Dr. Nava Greenfield, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. “Oftentimes an antibiotic will be prescribed to control the amount of P. acnes—a common bacteria that contributes to acne—around hair follicles and sweat glands.” 

After taking the prescription for around six weeks, I was 100-percent-no-questions-asked convinced that minocycline was made up of magic. My acne vanished and my pores shrunk. Unfortunately, the research on the medication wasn’t what it is today. I ended up taking the antibiotic for upwards of three years, which, long story short, is terrible, terrible practice and resulted in a fair share of side effects (read: GI issues, antibiotic resistance). “It’s one of my least favorite oral antibiotics and I never prescribe it,” says board-certified dermatologist and founder of Niche Dermatology in New York City Dr. Shari Marchbein. “Decades ago, we didn’t have the availability of a lot of the medicines that we have today, including more sophisticated topicals, along with more information and knowledge about what causes acne.” 

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