Home Medicines Minocycline: effect, areas of application, side effects

Minocycline: effect, areas of application, side effects

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 215 views

Minocycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic from the tetracycline group. The active ingredient inhibits the proliferation of various bacterial pathogens, so it has a bacteriostatic effect. In addition, minocycline mediates anti-inflammatory effects. For this reason, in addition to bacterial infections, inflammatory acne is also one of the areas of application. Find out more about the use, effects and possible side effects of minocycline here.

This is how minocycline works

Minocycline inhibits protein synthesis and thus the growth or multiplication of bacteria: Its target is the ribosomes – small cell organelles, which consist of two subunits and assemble protein building blocks ( amino acids ) into finished proteins.

Minocycline binds to the smaller subunit of the ribosome and breaks the amino acid chain there. This leaves the protein incomplete and non-functional. The antibiotic poses no risk to protein biosynthesis in humans, since it acts very specifically on bacteria.

Minocycline also has anti-inflammatory properties.

intake, degradation and excretion

The active ingredient is usually taken by mouth (orally) and almost completely absorbed into the blood through the intestinal wall. Up to 75 percent of it binds to plasma proteins, is distributed throughout the body and easily penetrates the tissue.

Its retention time in the body is quite long. Only 15 hours after ingestion has half of the active ingredient left the body (half-life). This happens mainly with the bile and the stool, partly also with the urine.

When is minocycline used?

Minocycline is used in Germany and Austria for various bacterial infectious diseases that are sensitive to minocycline, for example syphilis (if penicillin is not tolerated). It is also sometimes used for leprosy and other infectious diseases caused by mycobacteria.

Another area of ​​application is nocardiosis, a bacterial infection that occurs primarily in people with a weakened immune system (such as AIDS patients).

Minocycline can also relieve acne (even at low doses). It is therefore approved for severe forms of acne (in Germany, Austria and Switzerland).

The anti-inflammatory effect of the antibiotic is also used in part in the treatment of rosacea ( rosacea ). In all three of these countries, however, this use occurs “off-label”, i.e. outside the approved areas of application.

How Minocycline is used

The dosage of the antibiotic depends on the type and severity of the disease.

Unless otherwise prescribed, adults with bacterial infectious diseases usually initially receive an increased dose of 200 milligrams of minocycline and then every twelve hours a further 100 milligrams. In children over the age of eight, the dose is adjusted to the body weight: treatment usually starts with four milligrams of minocycline per kilogram of body weight. Thereafter, two milligrams per kilogram are given every twelve hours.

Acne patients take 50 milligrams of the antibiotic twice a day.

Minocycline should ideally be taken on an empty stomach , i.e. one hour before or at least two hours after a meal. In the case of gastrointestinal complaints, it may also be possible to take it with a meal after consulting a doctor.

What are the side effects of minocycline?

The most common side effects are gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea . Some patients have an allergic reaction to the antibiotic (skin itching, painful inflammatory reddening of the skin , hives).

In case of an allergic skin reaction, stop the treatment and contact the treating doctor immediately.

Tetracyclines such as minocycline make the skin more sensitive to UV radiation. Sunlight and visits to the solarium can therefore quickly lead to sunburn .

It is advisable to apply sufficient sun protection for the duration of the treatment and to avoid sunbathing and solarium visits.

Tetracyclines accumulate in bone tissue and teeth, especially in adolescents. This can temporarily impair bone growth and irreversibly discolor teeth (” chalking teeth “).

If you suffer from severe side effects or symptoms that are not mentioned, please consult your doctor.

What should be considered when using minocycline?


Minocycline must not be used in:

  • severe liver dysfunction
  • children under the age of eight
  • Known hypersensitivity to tetracyclines


Minocycline is able to interact with other drugs. This can change the effects and side effects of the antibiotic and/or other medicines.

For example, the antibiotic enhances the effect of ciclosporin – an active ingredient that is administered after an organ transplant to prevent rejection reactions.

Minocycline can also increase the effect of blood sugar reducers (antidiabetics), so that there is a risk of hypoglycaemia. The antibiotic also increases the absorption of digoxin in the body (heart strengthener).

Antacids (against heartburn), iron and multivitamin supplements, and penicillins generally reduce the effects of tetracyclines. If tetracyclines and theophylline (reserve medication for COPD) are taken at the same time, it can cause problems in the gastrointestinal tract.

Tetracyclines such as minocycline should not be taken with milk or milk products. The calcium salts in the milk form complexes with the antibiotics that the body can hardly absorb. This reduces the antibiotic effect.

Ability to drive and operate heavy machinery

Dizziness may occur at the beginning of treatment, sometimes accompanied by drowsiness and nausea. This affects the ability to drive and should be taken into account when driving vehicles or operating heavy machinery.

age restriction

Minocycline is contraindicated in children under the age of eight.

pregnancy and breast feeding period

The Pharmacovigilance and Counseling Center for Embryonic Toxicology at the Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin recommends that other antibiotics (penicillins, cephalosporins, macrolides) should generally be preferred during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If necessary, however, minocycline can be used up to the 16th week of pregnancy if there is a corresponding indication (e.g. bacterial infection) (as a second-choice agent). After that it is contraindicated.

If the antibiotics of choice (such as macrolides) are unsuitable while breastfeeding, you can breastfeed with minocycline. Most of the breastfeeding children observed had not suffered any symptoms, in particular no discoloration of their teeth.

In Switzerland, minocycline preparations (for acne treatment) are generally contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

How to get Minocycline medication

Minocycline requires a prescription in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. It is usually prescribed in an oral form (such as a tablet or capsule).

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