How Effective Is Oxytetracycline for Acne?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 22 January 2019
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Oxytetracycline can be effective for acne treatment, although it may take up to a month for the medication to start working. A medical professional may recommend this or other antibiotics in the tetracycline class if the patient doesn’t respond to more conservative acne treatments. If no response is seen after six weeks of treatment, it may be necessary to switch to a different antibiotic to see if it will work. The failure of oxytetracycline for acne can be noted in the patient’s medical record so the medication won’t be tried again.

Patients may take oxytetracycline for treating acne to kill the bacteria responsible for the development of acne spots. The medication needs several weeks to act on the bacterial population, and the skin still needs time to clear. Within six weeks, the patient’s lesions should be mostly resolved, although there may be some pockmarking and scarring that will become less noticeable over time. In studies comparing tetracycline for acne to a placebo, the antibiotic was much more effective.

Directions for taking this medication can include varying doses, depending on a doctor’s experience with other patients. It is important to follow instructions and to take note of any additional advice. Patients may find that it helps to regularly cleanse the skin with soap and warm water, for example, to keep the bacteria levels down as they take oxytetracycline for acne. It can also be helpful to regularly change sheets and pillowcases to keep bedding hygienic.


Once acne is cleared, antibiotic therapy may continue to prevent the regrowth of bacteria. Extended use of antibiotics can contribute to the rise of drug resistance, so the patient may eventually need to switch to another medication to control acne. If the spots return, another antibiotic can be considered to address the flareup. Keeping the acne under control with periodic short courses of antibiotics may keep the patient’s skin relatively clear most of the time without promoting antibiotic resistance in the organisms responsible for the outbreaks.

Side effects from this medication are relatively mild in most cases. Some people who use oxytetracycline for acne develop gastrointestinal upset or liver damage. This drug is also not safe for use in pregnant women because it can affect the development of fetal bones and teeth. If acne is a concern in pregnancy, other treatments are available. Patients who become pregnant while on oxytetracycline for acne should stop taking the medication and discuss the situation with their care providers.


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Post 5

I have taken two tablets twice a day for 17 days and I am so pleased with how it has cleared up my skin so far.

I'm female and 26, so this is adult acne that I am dealing with and am hoping that the 6 months that I'll be taking this will be enough to clear and balance my skin for good. I also apply Sudocrem on at night, which I find helps take a lot of the redness and really calms my skin after washing my face.

Post 4

I've been on these pills for a week and have seen no overall improvement. How long does it take?

Post 3

Yes, oxytetracycline is effective, but acne comes right back when you stop the treatment. And it has so many side effects. It causes digestion problems, chronic yeast infections and fatigue.

I tried many different antibiotics for my acne and had the same problems with all of them. They treat the acne but they mess up other things in the process. Right now I'm off antibiotics permanently and my acne is very bad but I'm seeking alternative treatments.

Post 2

@anon295126-- I'm sure it will work, just give it time.

Oxytetracycline is an effective drug. I took oxytetracycline for about five months. My skin is completely clear now, I have no breakouts. I am left with a lot of blemishes though and I'm looking for some natural topical treatments to get rid of those.

My doctor has decided to give me a break from antibiotics for a while. If my skin starts acting up again, he might put me on a different antibiotic. I hope that doesn't happen.

Post 1

I just started it today and am praying it works.

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