The three main types of tetracycline antibiotics include doxycycline, minocycline, and tetracycline, and are used to treat a vast number of bacterial infections. This family of antibiotics is commonly prescribed to treat infections of the respiratory system, urinary tract, and the middle ear as well as the sinuses and skin. These antibiotics also are often used to treat Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and typhus and may also be used to treat serious acne conditions. In many cases, the three types of tetracycline are often interchangeable and may be beneficial for similar diseases and conditions. The prescribing physician will determine which antibiotic best fits the needs of the patient and the individual illness or infection.
Doxycycline is the most commonly prescribed of the tetracycline antibiotics and is used for a variety of bacterial infections and illnesses. It was discovered in 1940 by Dr. Benjamin Duggar of New York and is derived from Streptomyces aureofaciens, a soil dwelling bacteria. When used in combination with a topical retinoid, this antibiotic is incredibly effective at treating acne vulgaris, the form of acne responsible for deep, red blemishes that commonly result in permanent scarring of the skin. Doxycycline also is prescribed to patients suffering from Rocky Mountain spotted fever, respiratory infections, and gonorrhea, among many others. It may be used for certain types of urinary tract infections and shingles as well.
Another often used type of the tetracycline antibiotics is minocycline, which was discovered in 1948. It is similar to doxycycline, but minocycline offers more antistaphylococcal abilities and is derived from both Streptomyces aureofaciens and Streptomyces rimosus. Doctors frequently prescribe this antibiotic for infections of the skin and skin structures, such as acne and cysts, and the respiratory tract. Trachoma, plague, and cholera are often treated with this medication as well as tick fevers and urinary tract infections. This type of antibiotic is typically very well tolerated by most patients, making it extraordinarily effective.
The final type of the tetracycline antibiotics is known as tetracycline and is used to inhibit the production of health damaging bacteria in the body. Much like the other types of tetracyclines, this original form is very effective in the treatment of a tremendous number of bacterial infections, such as amebic parasites and rosacea. The tetracycline family of antibiotics are generally well tolerated by adults, but are not generally recommended for children under eight years old, as there has been some evidence of these antibiotics affecting bone development. Other potential side effects include stomach cramping, soreness of the tongue and mouth, and a heightened sensitivity to sunlight, resulting in serious sunburns in some cases.