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What is Tetralysal: How Does It Work And Mix With Alcohol?

Donald Grant
Dr Donald GrantMB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.medGP & Clinical Advisor

Reviewed on 8 Nov 2023

Tetralysal contains the active ingredient lymecycline, which is a type of oral antibiotic that is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of acne.

Although it’s highly effective at treating acne, there is a lot to consider before taking Tetralysal for the first time.

Key considerations include how Tetralysal works, who can safely take the medication, and whether you can use it safely while drinking alcohol.

In this in-depth guide, we will answer all the above questions and more. As a result, you’ll be better placed to decide whether Tetralysal is the right medication for you.

What is Tetralysal (Lymecycline)?

Tetralysal most commonly comes in 300mg capsules, which are called Tetralysal 300. Used to treat moderate to severe cases of acne, the medication contains the active ingredient Lymecycline, which belongs to a group of antibiotics called tetracycline.

To effectively treat acne, people usually take one capsule a day. You swallow the capsule whole (usually in the morning), along with a medium-sized glass of water. Tetralysal can also be taken both with and without food.

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What is Tetralysal (Lymecycline) used for?

Tetralysal (Lymecycline) is most commonly prescribed to treat acne. It’s also used to treat other bacterial infections, including:

  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Mycoplasma
  • Trachoma

Although you can use the medication to treat the bacterial infections listed above, this guide focuses on using Tetralysal for acne.

How does Tetralysal (Lymecycline) work?

Tetralysal is an antibiotic that contains the active ingredient, lymecycline. The medication works by inhibiting propionibacterium, a type of skin bacteria that is the major cause of acne.

Propionibacterium is a common form of bacteria that feeds on the sebum produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. During this process, propionibacterium produces fatty acids and other waste products that irritate the sebaceous glands, which then become inflamed and cause acne.

Lymecycline blocks propionibacterium’s ability to produce the proteins that allow the propionibacterium bacteria to spread and multiply. In doing so, lymecycline stops the spread of infection, reduces sebaceous inflammation, gives the skin time to heal and reduces the outbreak of acne.

Can you drink alcohol while taking Tetralysal (Lymecycline)?

Although it’s commonly advised not to drink alcohol while taking antibiotics, you can drink alcohol while taking lymecycline. That said, if you start to feel unwell or get headaches while taking the medicine, then drinking alcohol at the same time could make them worse. Although the instructions included with Tetralysal don’t prohibit you from drinking, it is better not to consume alcohol while taking the medicine.

Who can take Tetralysal (Lymecycline)?

Acne can’t be cured. However, you can treat and manage acne by using Tetralysal. When considering taking the medication for the first time, it’s important to note who can and can’t take Tetralysal safely.

Tetralysal is safe for adults and can be taken by children over the age of 12. However, the medication is not safe to take if:

  • You are allergic to the active ingredient lymecycline
  • You have problems with your kidneys
  • You have liver diseases
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You have systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • You have myasthenia gravis (a rare muscle-weakening disease)

Note: the list above provides guidance on the suitability of taking Tetralysal for different people, but to ensure the medication is safe for you, it is always advisable to speak with your GP first.

Does Tetralysal (Lymecycline) work (how long does it take to work)?

Tetralysal is highly effective at treating moderate to severe acne. As an oral antibiotic, Tetralysal is most commonly prescribed when over-the-counter medications have proved ineffective at treating acne. Reviews of Tetralysal from customers of The Independent Pharmacy praise the medication, in particular, highlighting its:

  • Effectiveness
  • Value for money
  • Easy once-daily dosage

For most people, you may see an initial improvement in your acne within the first month. It is not an immediate solution, and significant results may take 6 to 12 weeks of continuous use. Your healthcare provider may recommend continuing treatment for a few months or longer to achieve and maintain the desired results. It's crucial to follow your healthcare provider's instructions regarding the dosage and duration of Tetralysal treatment. Stopping antibiotics prematurely can lead to incomplete treatment and potential resistance of the bacteria to the medication.

For best results, Tetralysal (like other oral antibiotics for acne) should be used with a topical, non-antibiotic acne treatment. This helps to give it an additive effect and to stop bacterial resistance from developing - meaning it stays more effective over time.

Can I use Tetralysal with other acne treatments?

As an oral antibiotic, Tetralysal should not be used with other oral or topical antibiotic treatments. It should be used alongside a topical non-antibiotic treatment, such as Acnecide, Skinoren, or Differin, as they have been shown to have the greatest effect when treating moderate to severe acne.

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Acnecide Gel - Buy Acne Treatment Online
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Does Tetralysal (Lymecycline) make acne worse before it makes it better?

Tetralysal (Lymecycline) is slow-acting, meaning it can take a while before your acne starts to clear. In most cases, you will start to see an improvement within a week. It’s important that you finish your prescribed course of medication. If you stop taking Tetralysal too soon, your acne may not clear and in some cases can become worse.

Can you drink milk while taking Tetralysal?

It is a common misconception that milk can prevent lymecycline, the active ingredient in Tertalysal tablets, from working properly. However, studies show that your body’s ability to absorb lymecycline will not be affected by small to moderate amounts of milk. For the best results, though, Tetralysal tablets should be taken with a glass of water, rather than milk or any other type of drink.

What are the side effects of using Tetralysal (Lymecycline)?

Everyone reacts to taking certain medications in different ways. Most people who take Tetralysal will experience no side effects. Others may find that they suffer from a range of side effects, from common side effects to serious side effects.

Common side effects of Tetralysal include:

  • Nausea or feeling sick
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headaches

Serious side effects of Tetralysal include:

  • Dizziness
  • Skin reactions to bright light
  • Liver problems

For more information read our Tetralysal side effects guide, which covers common and serious side effects in more detail as well as details about possible allergic reactions.

Can you take Tetralysal (Lymecycline) while pregnant or breastfeeding?

It is not recommended that you use Tetralysal if you are trying for a baby, you are pregnant, or you are breastfeeding.

Lymecycline, the active ingredient in Tetralysal, is part of a group of antibiotics called tetracyclines, which are used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. During the second or third trimesters of pregnancy, taking lymecycline is known to permanently stain a baby’s milk teeth when they come through after birth.

Treating infections during pregnancy is a hugely important part of keeping you and your baby healthy. If you develop an infection that only lymecycline can treat, you will need to talk to your GP carefully about the best course of action.

Can you use Tetralysal (Lymecycline) while taking birth control pills?

The short answer is yes. Tetralysal does not prevent contraception such as the combined pill and morning-after pill from working.

In a small number of cases, Tetralysal can cause side effects such as diarrhoea or vomiting. In such cases of severe diarrhoea or vomiting (for example, if you vomit or pass watery stools for over 24 hours) your contraceptive pills may stop protecting you.


Tetralysal is a safe and effective antibiotic medication that you can use to treat moderate to severe cases of acne. It should be used in conjunction with topical, non-antibiotic acne treatment, such as Acnecide, Skinoren, or Differin.

You can buy Tetralysal at The Independent Pharmacy. To get your prescription, you will need to fill in a short online questionnaire — it’s quick and free to do. If our medical team decides that the medication is safe for you to use, we then offer a fast, secure and discreet online service and delivery straight to your door so that you can start treatment without delay.

For more information on treating acne and other medications that you can use, visit our acne treatments page and read our selection of detailed guides.


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