The Independent Pharmacy

Doxycycline and Alcohol

Scott McDougall
Scott McDougallMPharmDirector & Registered Manager

Reviewed on 19 Jul 2022

What is Doxycycline?

Doxycycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic (referred to as a tetracycline antibiotic) that is used to treat a range of bacterial infections. It is effective against a wide variety of bacteria responsible for causing various infections, mostly throughout the skin and the respiratory system. It is also an effective treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and can be used for malaria prevention.

Doxycycline 100mg Capsules
Doxycycline 100mg Capsules
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What Is Doxycycline Used For?

Doxycycline is effective against a number of bacterial infections, but is most commonly used to treat:

  • Respiratory infections (such as bronchitis)
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia
  • Dental infections
  • Acne and rosacea

Doxycycline can also be used as an antimalarial treatment for travellers visiting malaria at-risk areas.

Can I Drink Alcohol on Doxycycline?

As with many antibiotics, alcohol can interact with doxycycline in certain cases. The effectiveness of doxycycline can be reduced when drinking alcohol, particularly in people who:

  • Drink alcohol excessively
  • Have a history of chronic drinking
  • Have liver problems

If you don’t fall into any of these categories, however, it’s generally safe to occasionally enjoy an alcoholic drink while taking doxycycline without impacting its effectiveness.

That said, it’s probably best to avoid alcohol until your infection has completely cleared up, as drinking alcohol (particularly in large quantities) can lead to a decrease in the functionality of the immune system.

What Happens If I Drink Alcohol on Doxycycline?

If you’re a heavy, chronic drinker, or you have existing liver problems, drinking alcohol with doxycycline can reduce the effectiveness of the antibiotic and hamper recovery from the infection you’re using doxycycline to treat.

If you’re only an occasional drinker with no history of liver problems, mixing doxycycline and alcohol won’t lead to any serious health issues. However, if you’ve been drinking while taking doxycycline and you feel dizzy, drowsy or have an upset stomach, you should stop drinking straight away.

While a small amount of alcohol shouldn’t impact the effectiveness of doxycycline, a night of moderate to heavy drinking is likely to slow down your overall recovery time, as drinking excess units of alcohol can impede the body’s immune response.

What Should I Avoid While Taking Doxycycline?

As with most antibiotics, there are certain medications that shouldn’t be taken alongside doxycycline. You should consult your doctor before taking doxycycline if you are also taking any of the following medications:

  • Indigestion remedies (antacids)
  • Stomach ulcer medicines that contain bismuth
  • Acne medicines containing vitamin A, such as isotretinoin
  • Warfarin, a medicine to help prevent blood clots
  • Epilepsy medications such as phenytoin or carbamazepine
  • Ciclosporin, a medicine that calms down your immune system
  • Any other antibiotics, such as rifampicin

You should also tell your doctor before taking doxycycline with any herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements; especially iron supplements or anything containing aluminum, bismuth, calcium, magnesium or zinc.

Who Should Avoid Taking Doxycycline?

Doxycycline is not suitable for everyone, and you should consult your doctor before taking it if you fall into any of the below categories:

  • You’re pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You’ve had a previous allergic reaction to doxycycline or any other medicine
  • You have kidney or liver problems
  • You have oesophagitis (an inflamed food pipe)
  • You have myasthenia gravis (a condition that causes severe muscle weakness)
  • You have an autoimmune disease known as lupus

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