What is Doxycycline?
Doxycycline is a broad spectrum antibiotic that can be used to treat various infections. The active ingredient is doxycycline hyclate. A course of Doxycycline tablets can protect you against malaria, a potentially fatal disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Providing that the antibiotic is safe for you to use, our online GPs will usually consider prescribing a protective course of Doxycycline. The final choice of medication may also depend on the duration of your trip and the type of malarial parasites that you may encounter.
What is the active ingredient of Doxycycline?
The active ingredient of Doxycycline is doxycycline hyclate, a broad spectrum antibiotic from the tetracycline class. Used correctly as a chemoprophylaxis, this antibiotic is highly effective in the prevention of malaria. Doxycycline hyclate can also be used in the active treatment of some forms of malaria and other infections.
How does Doxycycline work?
When you are bitten by an infected mosquito, microscopic parasites in its saliva enter your bloodstream and collect in your liver. As they mature and reproduce they cause the potentially fatal symptoms of malaria. A course of daily Doxycycline tablets (started a minimum of two days before you are exposed to malarial mosquitoes and ended four weeks after exposure ceases) will protect you from malaria. The antibiotic works as a suppressive prophylaxis, killing the malarial parasites after they have passed through your liver. It is extremely important to finish a prescribed course of Doxycycline, even if you have returned to the UK and are no longer exposed to malarial mosquitoes. If you do not take all the tablets, the parasites in your liver could still cause a malaria infection. In the UK in 2015 there were 1,400 cases of malaria, with six fatalities. Many of these cases could have been prevented by effective use of preventative medications.
Who can take Doxycycline?
DoktorABC’s online GPs are generally able to consider prescribing Doxycycline tablets to adult patients who are planning to travel to malarial regions, as long as there are no prior health issues. If you are allergic to doxycycline hyclate, or other similar antibiotics (such as minocycline or tetracycline) you cannot take Doxycycline. Your online GP will also take into account which areas you plan to visit and the types of malarial parasites that you may be exposed to when deciding on your prescription.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is important that you tell your online GP. You may still be able to use Doxycycline, but the GP will first check that it is a safe option for you. You may be offered Malarone as an alternative. When you fill in the quick online health questionnaire, you will be asked about any relevant medical problems or medications that may be incompatible with Doxycycline.
What doses of Doxycycline are available?
If your prescription for Doxycycline is approved, your online GP will give you exact individual instructions about how to take the medication. Generally, when Doxycycline is taken to prevent malaria, the dosage is as follows:
- One 200mg tablet is taken daily at the same time every day.
- Treatment begins a minimum of two days before you are likely to be exposed to malarial mosquitoes.
- Daily treatment continues while you are in a malarial area.
- Daily treatment continues for another four weeks after you leave the malarial area.
How do I take Doxycycline?
Your online GP will give you precise individual instructions about how to take your Doxycycline tablets. Generally, when using Doxycycline to prevent malaria, a single 200mg tablet is taken once a day. The tablet may be swallowed with a full glass of water, or with milk or food if the medicine irritates your stomach. It is important to take each tablet when you are standing or sitting down. To prevent irritation or ulceration of your gullet, you should not lie down for at least 30 minutes after taking a Doxycycline tablet.
If your prescription for Doxycycline is approved, it will cover a least a two day period before you are exposed to malarial mosquitoes, the duration of your trip, and a four week period after your trip. You should take your tablets as instructed, until the entire prescription has been completed. If you do not complete the entire course of Doxycycline, malarial parasites present in your liver may continue to reproduce. These can cause a potentially fatal malaria infection.
Can I take Doxycycline and drink alcohol?
Our online GPs generally do not recommend drinking alcohol while you are taking any prescription medicine. Doxycycline is not considered to be compatible with alcohol and you should aim not drink at all while you are using this medication. If you want to drink alcohol while you are using Doxycycline, you should discuss the risks with your online GP.
What are the side effects of Doxycycline?
Important! Please make a note to refer user to read leaflet before use.
Your Doxycycline tablets will come with a patient leaflet giving detailed information about the medication, its ingredients, possible side effects, and contraindications. Please read this leaflet carefully before you take any tablets. Keep the leaflet with the medication for future reference.
If you take Doxycycline exactly as directed by our online GP you are unlikely to experience any significant unwelcome side effects. A small minority of patients may experience some minor side effects.
Common side effects
- Headaches, nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to sunlight
Serious side effects
Serious side effects are rare and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people.
- Bruising or bleeding you can't explain (including nosebleeds), a sore throat, a high temperature (38C or above) and you feel tired or generally unwell.
- Severe and persistent diarrhoea, or diarrhoea that contains blood or mucus.
- Aching joints or muscle pains that are not related to physical exertion.
- Severe headaches, vomiting and problems with your vision.
- Losing fingernails
- Sore or swollen mouth, lips or tongue
- Severe stomach pains
If you experience serious discomfort we recommend that you go straight to your nearest casualty department. In an emergency dial 999.
When should I not take Doxycycline?
You cannot take Doxycycline if you are allergic to doxycycline hyclate, or other similar antibiotics (such as minocycline or tetracycline). When you fill in the short online medical questionnaire it is important to mention any health problems and medications that you are taking. If the duty GP can’t prescribe Doxycycline, you may be offered Malarone instead. If you have any of the following medical conditions, your online GP will check whether Doxycycline is safe for you to use, and whether you need to take special precautions.
- Liver disease
- Myasthenia gravis
- Sensitivity to sunlight
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
Medications and Treatments
- Warfarin or other anticoagulants
- Penicillin or rifampicin (to treat infections)
- Medicines such as antacids containing aluminium, calcium or magnesium or other medicines containing iron, bismuth or zinc salts. Do not take at the same time as Doxycycline capsules, as absorption of doxycycline may be reduced.
- Phenobarbital, carbamazepine, phenytoin or primidone (to treat epilepsy)
- Oral contraceptives (the pill)
- Methoxyflurane (an anaesthetic)
- Ciclosporin (used following organ transplants)
Any specific warnings - please mention any medication specific warning if they are
The Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) is the leaflet included in the pack with a medicine. It is written for patients and gives information about taking or using a medicine. It is possible that the leaflet in your medicine pack may differ from the PDF-version from this website because it may have been updated since your medicine was packaged or the medicine is from another brand.