The Independent Pharmacy

Oxytetracycline Side Effects: What You Need To Know About This Acne Treatment

Steve Stoddart
Steve StoddartBPharm IPPharmacist Independent Prescriber

Reviewed on 22 Aug 2022

Whether you suffer from acne as an adolescent or adult, it can be upsetting. Luckily, there are many acne treatment options like Oxytetracycline that can successfully help you get rid of acne with minimal side effects. Oxytetracycline side effects, in particular, are unusual and mild.

If you’re considering using Oxytetracycline to treat acne, then you’ll probably want to know more about this treatment, such as how it works and whether there are any side effects you need to know about.

That’s why we’ve created this Oxytetracycline side effects guide, so that you can find out what the possible side effects of this medicine are, including common side effects (affecting around 1 in 10 people), or the more rare and serious side effects.

To find out more about the side effects of Oxytetracycline, carry on to the article below. To read more about using Oxytetracycline for acne in general, head to our dedicated ‘Oxytetracycline for acne’ page.

Oxytetracycline 250mg Tablets
Oxytetracycline 250mg Tablets
View Treatment

Oxytetracycline uses: What is Oxytetracycline used for?

Oxytetracycline tablets are oral antibiotics used for the treatment of mild to moderate acne and other medical conditions. In this article, we will focus on Oxytetracycline in acne.

Oxytetracycline — which belongs to a group of medicines called tetracycline antibiotics — works by killing the bacteria on the skin that causes blocked pores and leads to acne.

Oxytetracycline isn’t just used for acne. Although it is primarily used to treat skin conditions such as acne and rosacea, it is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is effective against a wide variety of bacteria and can be used to successfully treat a range of different bacterial infections.

This includes chest infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), skin infections, mouth infections, genital infections, yeast infections, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia.

Summary list of Oxytetracycline side effects

Not all people who take this medicine will experience side effects. On the whole, the majority of people who use this medicine to treat acne (or anything else) will have a positive experience and successful treatment, with few or no side effects at all.

However, like all medicines, Oxytetracycline tablets can cause side effects. These can vary from more mild side effects to more adverse reactions.

Possible Oxytetracycline side effects may include:

  • Discolouration of the teeth
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach irritation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty or discomfort swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Irritation of the oesophagus
  • Discolouration of the tongue
  • Itching around the mouth
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity of the skin to sunlight or UV light
  • Skin discolouration or other changes to colour or texture of the skin
  • Hives or rashes
  • Overgrowth of the yeast Candida, which can cause infections such as thrush
  • Itching around the genital area
  • Inflammation of the bowel (colitis)
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Liver disorders such as jaundice
  • Blood disorders
  • Raised pressure in the skull, leading to persistent headaches or blurred vision
  • Other vision problems

This list is not exhaustive. It is possible to experience side effects of Oxytetracycline that are not listed above.

If you notice any of the above Oxytetracycline side effects or any other unexpected reactions, you should tell your doctor or pharmacist. They will be able to advise you on whether to continue with this particular course of treatment or try an alternative medicine.

More common side effects and symptoms

People can react to the same medicine in different ways, so what one person may experience with a treatment can be very different to the experience of another.

However, there are some more common side effects of Oxytetracycline that you are more likely to experience than others, should you choose to use this acne treatment.

The more common Oxytetracycline side effects (which may affect up to 1 in 10 people) include:

  • Discolouration of the teeth
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach aches or irritation
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sensitivity of the skin to sunlight

If you experience any of the gastric side effects we’ve mentioned above such as stomach aches or nausea, you can take Oxytetracycline tablets with food to help.

It is generally recommended that you take them on an empty stomach to avoid any unwanted interaction with food or drink and to help your stomach absorb the medicine. If you do this, you should try to stick to simple foods, avoiding fatty or spicy meals as well as dairy products like milk.

If you experience diarrhoea while taking Oxytetracycline, make sure that you drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids.

Serious side effects and symptoms

Serious Oxytetracycline side effects are very unusual. However, they can occur for a small number of people.

That’s why it is important to be aware of these potential serious side effects and their symptoms — just in case you experience any of them.

The following are some possible serious Oxytetracycline side effects and their symptoms:

  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) — symptoms include pain in the abdomen or back, feeling sick, diarrhoea, vomiting and a fever
  • Changes in liver function, including livers disorders — symptoms include yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice), tiredness, pain in the abdomen or back
  • Changes in kidney function or kidney damage — signs include darker urine, passing less urine, vomiting and nausea
  • Blood disorders — symptoms including increased bruising, nose bleeds, sore throat or infections, excessive tiredness, breathlessness and pale skin
  • Raised pressure in the skull, leading to persistent headaches or blurred vision

You should seek medical advice urgently if you notice any of the above side effects and their symptoms.

Similarly, if you experience any other severe, painful or concerning symptoms that are not on this list, check with a medical professional immediately.

Allergic reactions

Although it is very unusual, it is possible to have a serious allergic reaction to Oxytetracycline.

You should not take Oxytetracycline if you know you are allergic to it or tetracycline antibiotics.

Call 999 or go to A&E immediately if you experience any of the below symptoms and signs:

  • Difficulty with breathing, such as wheezing or breathlessness
  • Difficulty talking
  • Any tightness in your chest or throat
  • Swelling in the mouth, face, tongue, lips or throat
  • A skin rash that includes itching, redness, swelling, blistered or peeling skin
  • Severe dizziness

These symptoms indicate a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). This should be treated as an emergency and requires medical attention straight away.

Oxytetracycline reviews

Oxytetracycline tablets are very effective at treating mild to moderate acne and many users report positive experiences with this antibiotic medicine.

Find out more about how real customers of The Independent Pharmacy got on with using this treatment in the Oxytetracycline reviews section of the products treatment page.

Oxytetracycline overdose

As per the patient leaflet that comes with this medicine, there are no specific Oxytetracycline overdose problems or symptoms.

However, it’s important to only take Oxytetracycline exactly as your doctor or pharmacist advises you, and never take more than the prescribed dose.

If you suspect that you might have taken an overdose of Oxytetracycline, you should either call 111 or go to A&E immediately.

Oxytetracycline and chlamydia

Although Oxytetracycline is primarily used to treat skin conditions like acne and rosacea, this oral antibiotic is also used to treat other bacterial infections.

This can include chest infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), skin infections, mouth infections, genital infections, yeast infections, and sexually transmitted infections.

Chlamydia is not one of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) that Oxytetracycline may be prescribed to treat according to current UK guidelines.

Oxytetracycline and the pill

It is a commonly-held belief that antibiotics will stop hormonal contraception like the contraceptive pill from working.

However, most antibiotics do not actually affect contraception. It's now thought that the only types of antibiotic medicines that interact with contraception and make it less effective are rifampicin-like antibiotics.

Oxytetracycline is not a rifampicin-like antibiotic — the active ingredient oxytetracycline belongs to a group of medicines called tetracycline antibiotics.

Nevertheless, there is a very slight risk of adverse effect on oral contraception (a few cases of spotting, breakthrough bleeding or pregnancy have been attributed to the simultaneous use of Oxytetracycline with oral contraceptives), so you may want to consider using an alternative contraceptive method while you use Oxytetracycline, just in case.

If you are unsure when you need to do this or not, you can seek contraceptive advice from your doctor or pharmacist.

How to take Oxytetracycline

When it comes to how to take Oxytetracycline, you should always follow the instructions given to you by your doctor or pharmacist and complete your course as advised.

Here are some tips for how to take Oxytetracycline if you need more guidance:

  • Take two Oxytetracycline tablets twice daily, preferably in the morning and evening
  • Take Oxytetracycline tablets with a full glass of water
  • Take Oxytetracycline tablets on an empty stomach; this is usually one hour before food or two hours after food
  • Do not take Oxytetracycline at the same time as indigestion remedies. Allow a gap of 2 -3 hours between taking each treatment
  • Do not take Oxytetracycline immediately before lying down or retiring for the night, as this will increase the chances of stomach-related side effects
  • If you forget to take one of your daily doses, do not double up your medicine — instead, continue with the next dose due

Acne treatment supplied by The Independent Pharmacy usually consists of a three month course, with four 250mg tablets taken per day (taking two 250mg Oxytetracycline tablets both morning and evening).

Can Oxytetracycline cause depression?

No, Oxytetracycline cannot cause depression.

Mood changes and mental health problems like depression are not listed as side effects of using this acne treatment.

It may be that you have heard of another acne treatment that has been linked to depression — isotretinoin. Isotretinoin capsules are also known by the brand names Roaccutane and Rizuderm.

Although isotretinoin is a very effective treatment for severe acne, this particular medicine can have serious side effects for some users, including depression and other mental health problems.

If you feel like you are becoming depressed, notice symptoms of depression, or think about harming yourself while taking isotretinoin, you should stop taking the medicine immediately and tell your doctor straight away.


Oxytetracycline 250mg tablets are oral antibiotics that are used for the treatment of mild to moderate acne. They can also be used to treat other bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections (UTIs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Like all medicines, there is a chance that you may experience side effects when using Oxytetracycline.

However Oxytetracycline side effects don’t affect everyone who takes this medicine. The majority of users won’t encounter any adverse effects at all.

If you do, you are most likely to experience the more common side effects of Oxytetracycline (which affect up to 1 in 10 people) including gastric side effects such as stomach aches or irritation, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting. In some cases, discolouration of the teeth or sensitivity of the skin to sunlight may occur.

If you experience any of the serious side effects that we have mentioned in the article above or you are worried about any other unexpected reactions to Oxytetracycline, contact your doctor or pharmacist for guidance on how to proceed.

Oxytetracycline 250mg tablets are available to buy at The Independent Pharmacy for the successful treatment of persistent acne. You can order this treatment online — you just need to fill in our consultation form and answer a few questions before we complete your prescription and send your medicine out to you.


Related Guides

Need something else?

We stock 1045 treatments for 90 conditions

Or browse all treatments or conditions

A customer at the pharmacist looking for medication