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Tetracycline is available as a prescription oral treatment. It is available as a capsule. 

  • Available forms:

    • Oral treatment: 

      • Capsule:
        Available as prescription
        Generic available (US)
      • Tablet:
        Available as prescription
        Generic available (US)
      • Liquid / Suspension:
        Available as prescription
        Generic available (US)
    • Brand names:

      • Tetralysal®
      • Lymecycline®
      • Achromycin V®
      • Sumycin®*
      • Wesmycin®

        *This brand name is no longer available. 

        (Other brand names may be available)
  • Available in these doses:

    • Capsule: 250 mg, 300 mg, 408 mg, 500 mg
    • Tablets: 250 mg, 500 mg
    • Liquid: 125 mg per 5 mL

Dosing information:

The initial dose of tetracycline is 1 g per day divided into multiple doses. Tetracycline is usually reduced to 125 mg to 500 mg per day once acne is notably improved. Tetracycline capsules are prescribed at a dose of 300 mg once or twice a day.

The duration of tetracycline use should be as short as possible to minimize risk of side-effects and development of bacterial resistance. However, make sure to complete the prescribed course in its entirety even if your skin has cleared up before the end of your prescribed course. 

The effect of tetracycline on your acne should be re-evaluated after 3 to 4 months. 

  • Who is it for? 

    • Gender:
      • Males and females
    • Severity of acne:
      • Moderate-to-severe
    • Age:
      • Children of 8 years and older, adolescents, and adults

How to use it:

Tetracycline is an oral treatment and is available in capsule, tablet, and liquid form. 

When taking tetracycline, drink a full glass of water. You must take tetracycline on an empty stomach, at least an hour before or two hours after meals or snacks. You should not take tetracycline with food, especially dairy products, including milk, ice cream, yogurt, or cheese. If you experience stomach upset, you can try taking it with food.

  • Capsule:
    • The capsules should be swallowed whole. Do not break, crush, chew, or open the capsules. 
  • Liquid / Suspension:
    • Before use, the suspension should be shaken well in order to mix the medication evenly. Measure the prescribed amount of suspension using the medicine cup (as provided), or a  marked measuring spoon. 

Follow the instructions on your prescription carefully and use tetracycline exactly as prescribed by your physician. Do not change the dose or the frequency of your medication. If you have any questions about the medication or the prescription, ask your physician or pharmacist. 

Be aware of: 

  • Before using tetracycline, let your physician or pharmacist know if you are allergic to tetracycline, minocycline, doxycycline, demeclocycline, or any of the other ingredients in the capsules, or tablets. 
  • Tell your physician that you are taking tetracycline before any medical tests. Tetracycline may affect the results of some medical tests.
  • Before using tetracycline, inform your physician about the prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are using/taking. You will find a complete list of drug interactions below.
  • Beware that the following medications interfere with tetracycline making it less effective: magnesium, aluminium, calcium, or sodium bicarbonate, calcium supplements, zinc or iron products, and laxatives containing magnesium. Tetracycline should be taken 2 hours before or 6 hours after taking these medications.
  • Before using tetracycline, inform your physician if you currently suffer from  or have ever suffered from lupus (an inflammatory disease in which the immune system attacks certain tissues such as skin, joints, blood, and kidneys), or kidney or liver disease.
  • Tetracycline may reduce the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills, patches, rings or injections. To ensure adequate contraception while on tetracycline ask your physician about other forms of birth control, including condoms, a diaphragm, or contraceptive foam or jelly. 
  • Tetracycline may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight so avoid unnecessary direct or prolonged exposure to sunlight, especially between 10am and 3pm, and wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen (with sun protection factor of at least 15) while taking tetracycline. Do not use a sunlamp or tanning bed. Inform your physician if your exposure to sunlight causes skin rash, itching, redness or other discoloration of the skin or a severe sunburn. 
  • If you are using tetracycline and are pregnant or are planning on becoming pregnant, talk to your physician about using tetracycline during pregnancy because tetracycline can harm the fetus. Tetracycline use during pregnancy can cause permanent staining of the teeth in the baby. 
  • If you are using tetracycline and are breastfeeding, talk to your physician about using tetracycline during this period.
  • If tetracycline was prescribed for acne, you can continue your regular diet unless your physician advises otherwise. However, some evidence suggests dairy food may increase the risk of certain side-effects. Talk to your physician if you have any questions. 
  • Do not share your medication with anyone else. 
  • Keep your regular appointments with your physician to track your response to tetracycline.

Drug interactions: 

Some drugs interact with tetracycline and should not be used together with tetracycline. However, your physician may prescribe other drugs together with tetracycline which may cause a slight interaction, and in this case, precautions are necessary.

Inform your physician or pharmacist about all the prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan on taking before starting tetracycline. Also inform your physician or pharmacist of the skin products you use including soaps, cleansers, moisturizers, and cosmetics. 

Drugs that should not be used with tetracycline at all are:

  • Acitretin

Full list of drug interactions (From PubMed and Medline Plus):

  • Aluminum Carbonate, Basic
  • Aluminum Hydroxide
  • Aluminum Phosphate
  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Antacids
  • Bacampicillin
  • Calcium
  • Cloxacillin
  • Dicloxacillin
  • Magnesium Carbonate
  • Magnesium Hydroxide
  • Magnesium Oxide
  • Magnesium Trisilicate
  • Methicillin
  • Multivitamins
  • Nafcillin
  • Oxacillin
  • Penicillin G
  • Penicillin G Benzathine
  • Penicillin G Procaine
  • Penicillin V
  • Piperacillin
  • Pivampicillin
  • Sultamicillin
  • Temocillin
  • Warfarin

What if I overdose?

In case of overdose, contact an emergency facility or call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 1 (800) 222-1222 (available 24/7).

If immediate assistance is necessary because the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or cannot be awakened, call 911 at once.

Information can also be found online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help

What if I miss a dose?

As soon as you recall that you have missed a dose, take the missed dose. However, skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose and continue with your prescribed dosing schedule. Do not increase the quantity or frequency of dosing to make up for the missed dose.


Store your medication in the container that the pharmacist provided and keep it out of reach and out of sight of children. Many containers can be opened by children. Keep the container tightly closed. Always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location that is up and away from the sight of young children, to prevent poisoning (www.upandaway.org).

Store the medication at room temperature. Keep the medication away from excessive heat and moisture – do not store in the bathroom. Do not freeze tetracycline.


Do not keep outdated medication and medication that you no longer use. Unneeded medications should be disposed of in a way that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. Do not flush the medication down the toilet. Contact your pharmacist to learn about the availability of a medicine take-back program in your neighborhood, or get in touch with your local garbage/recycling department to ensure safe disposal. If you do not have access to a take-back program, you can find more information on safe disposal of medication on the FDA website: (https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/EnsuringSafeUseofMedicine/SafeDisposalofMedicines/ucm186187.htm)

  1. Medlineplus.gov. (2018). Tetracycline: MedlinePlus Drug Information. [online] Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682098.html.  [Accessed 14 May. 2018].
  2. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. (2018). Tetracycline. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0012370/?report=details. [Accessed 14 May 2018]
  3. Toxnet.nlm.nih.gov. (2018). Tetracycline. [online] Available at: https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search2/f?./temp/~wuyWqs:6. [Accessed 14 May. 2018].
  4. Uptodate.com. (2018). Tetracycline. [online] Available at: https://www-uptodate-com.eresources.mssm.edu/contents/tetracycline-drug-information?search=tetracycline&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~149&usage_type=default&display_rank=1. [Accessed 14 May. 2018].
  5. Epocrates.com. (2018). Tetracycline. [online] Available at: https://online.epocrates.com/drugs/8010/tetracycline/Monograph. [Accessed 14 May. 2018].