Doxycycline & Sunburn: All You Need to Know

We most often take antibiotics to fight against bacterial infections. Doxycycline is just one of them. It is quite a safe and effective medication but, like other medications, Doxycycline also has some side effects and photosensitivity is the most vital amongst them. Photosensitivity, in simple terms, your skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation from sunlight might cause several problems like rashes, allergic reactions and DNA mutation as well.

So, how does Doxycycline sunburn increase the risk?

As Doxycycline has photosensitivity, it increases your skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation from sunlight and the more you’re exposed to sunlight the more chances there are that you might have DNA mutations. This situation often leads to skin cancer.

In this article, we will be discussing the pros and cons of Doxycycline and its side effects. We will give you some tips and tricks to protect your skin from sunburn while taking Doxycycline. So, without further delay, let’s get into it. 

As Doxycycline has photosensitivity, it increases your skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation from sunlight and the more you’re exposed to sunlight the more chances there are that you might have DNA mutations.

What is Doxycycline?

Doxycycline, a part of a drug class, Tetracycline antibiotic, is a medication typically used to treat people having bacterial infections. It prevents bacteria from proliferating throughout the entire body. If you have papules, pustules, or severe cystic acne irritated because of the presence of bacteria, your doctor may likely provide doxycycline for medication. 

Though, it fights against most of the bacteria causing acne but is not successful against all. For that reason, another medication is also prescribed to target certain acne from various angles. 

doxycycline

Doxycycline is also used to treat Lyme disease, bacterial skin infections and sexually transmitted infections. It has the ability to prevent malaria and can stop outbreaks of several infectious diseases.

How It Works?

Doxycycline, an antibiotic, is used to treat a variety of infections brought on by susceptible gram-positive, gram-negative, anaerobic, and other bacteria. It blocks bacterial protein synthesis by attaching to a ribosomal subunit and prevents amino acids from linking together as, without proteins, bacteria can not function at all. Apart from that, Doxycycline is bacteriostatic, meaning it stops bacteria from proliferating.

Doxycycline and Your Skin’s Sensitivity to Sunlight

Doxycycline is basically a very safe and effective medication but like other medications, it has some side effects as well. Photosensitivity is a major side effect of it.

When UV rays are exposed to your skin, they cause damage to your DNA level causing DNA mismatches. Our body has an inbuilt DNA proofreading technique but mutation may happen over time if you are exposed to the sunlight for a long period of time.

As Doxycycline has photosensitivity, it increases your skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation from sunlight and the more you’re exposed to sunlight the more chances there are that you might have DNA mutations. This situation often leads to skin cancer.

doxycycline-sunburn

Unlike typical sunburn, Doxycycline sunburn might result in erythematous plaques (red, elevated patches of skin) and acne-like papules. It might often become quite painful and itchy and may become very uncomfortable to deal with.

Side Effects of Doxycycline

Doxycycline may have additional adverse effects in addition to making you more sensitive to sunlight. The major side effects include:

In addition, it can sometimes be severe and have some allergic side effects, these includes:

  • Skin that is irritated, flaky, and blistered
  • Headaches
  • Hives
  • Pain that affects your joints and chest
  • Difficulty in breathing and swallowing
  • Double vision, blurred vision and vision loss
  • Swelling of the tongue, throat, face, lips, and eyes
  • Rash on the skin accompanied by fever and swollen glands
  • Teeth color changes
  • Stomach cramps, watery stool and digestive issues

If you experience any of these severe and adverse side effects we recommend you to consult with your health care provider right away.

Apart from that, Doxycycline also increases the risk of developing vaginal yeast infections and also reduces the effectiveness of several hormonal contraceptives.

When Does Doxycycline Leave Your System?

Normally, the half-life of Doxycycline is 14 to 24 hours depending on your age, weight and doses. That means if you take 150 mg of Doxycycline, it will take 18 to 19 hours to reduce half of the volume of it. It may take 28 to 48 hours to completely cut off Doxycycline from your body.

What to Avoid while taking Doxycycline?

Supplements and other drugs may interact with Doxycycline. Your prescription label will inform you what to avoid and your doctor will inform you about that. The following things are to be avoided while taking Doxycycline:

  • Alcohol
  • Sun exposure
  • Dairy products
  • Tanning beds

Doxycycline might interact with the following, so make sure your doctor knows what you are taking:

Take as Directed

Usually, Doxycycline is for a short-term treatment, it can become serious if you do not take as prescribed

If you abruptly stop taking the medication or stop taking it altogether: Chances are, your infections will not go away. And also, if you’re taking it for malaria, some other infections will be untreated.

doxycycline-doses

If you don’t take the medication as directed or skip doses: Your medication may not work properly or may not work at all. It’s recommended to take Doxycycline as directed to get a better result. Chances are, your body may get antibiotic-resistant if you do not take the dose as directed or skip doses.

In case of over intake: You may experience severe side effects if you take too much. Inform your doctor immediately if you see these symptoms.

How to deal if a dose is missed: Try taking the skipped dose as soon as you remember. Do not take it if your next scheduled dose is just an hour after. Taking two doses at once is not advised.

How to assess whether a medicine is working: You’ll begin to feel better as your symptoms start to get better.

Tips for Caring Your Skin

A daily dose of doxycycline may be prescribed by your doctor if you frequently experience outbreaks of inflammatory or cystic acne in order to clear up your skin and stop the acne from coming back.

It’s really important to protect your skin from sunburn while taking doxycycline as it increases your skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation from sunlight. You may also try some fresh juice to help maintain healthy, bright skin.

How to Keep Your Skin Safe While Taking Doxycycline?

Sun protection is vital for your skin while taking Doxycycline. Follow the tips below to keep your skin stay protected:

  • Use sunscreen: Sunscreen protects your skin from sunburn and UV radiation, so it’s recommended to use sunscreen while taking doxycycline. Broad-spectrum, SPF30+ and water-resistant sunscreen show better results as not only they reduce the risk of sunburn but also help you to reduce developing fine lines, age spots and wrinkles on your skin.
  • Avoid spending time in bright sunlight: This is by far the best way to keep your skin protected while taking Doxycycline. Try to keep yourself in the shade or when you’re outside, use an umbrella. Try to keep your skin safe from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM as in this period sunlight is the strongest and UV levels are the highest.
  • Choose skin-protective attire and accessories: It’s better to try long sleeve-top and pants, as they can protect your arms and legs from sunburn. Sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats are very helpful during the summer season. Thick clothing like tightly-woven denim, wool or polyester might help you in the sunlight.
  • Use sun protection even in the winter: The temperature might be low but the UV index is still high during winter. Try protecting your skin while you’re skiing or snowboarding. Even in the cold, use sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • When possible, choose shoes that cover your feet: Your feet also need to be protected as well, especially in the summer season. You may use sunscreen on your feet or select footwear that will cover your feet.

You can also follow the tips mentioned below to get rid of sunburn:

  • To relieve itchy skin, apply a moisturizer which comprises aloe vera or soy
  • Do not pop blisters; instead, allow them to naturally cure
  • Drink more water as sunburn may cause dehydration
  • Take a cool bath to ease any soreness or discomfort
  • Avoid unnecessary sun exposure 

FAQs

Question: What happens if I stop taking Doxycycline?

Answer:  We recommend you to carry on Doxycycline until your dose is completed even if you are feeling well. Your infections may come back or you may not fight against malaria if you do not complete the course properly.

Question: How long does antibiotic sun sensitivity last?

Answer:  Depending on the person and the medication, the time varies. Normally, high doses of antibiotics show stronger results and long-lasting reactions compared to lower doses. Most of the time you will see the symptoms an hour after you’re in sun exposure. The signs could last for a week or two. Sometimes it lasts for a long time, from weeks to months, though, they are very rare situations.

Question: After discontinuing Doxycycline, how long do adverse effects last?

Answer: Chances are, Doxycycline may darken your skin, face teeth or gum. Better you talk to your doctor if you face any of these symptoms. Besides, it often causes diarrhea which can become severe at times. Normally, it takes around two months or more to go away all the side effects caused by Doxycycline.

Question: After I stop using Doxycycline, will my acne return?

Answer:  No, after you stop taking Doxycycline, your acne will not come back if you are having treatment. Normally, you will need Doxycycline for a short period of time and after you complete your course, acne will not come back.

Take Away

Doxycycline is quite a safe and effective antibiotic. But like other ones, it has some side effects.

So, does Doxycycline increase the risk of sunburn?

We provided the answer, yes; It increases your skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation. Besides, it has some other side effects like acne, rashes and other skin problems.

We provided you some tips to keep your skin safe from sunburn. We recommend you to talk to your doctor before you start taking Doxycycline. And also, talk to your doctor right away if you face any severe skin problems.

Zahin Ibnat

Zahin Ibnat

I'm a medical student from Bangladesh. Along the path of my life, medical science has always entranced and enticed me through it's continuous advancement. I believe being health conscious and having a wholesome lifestyle should be our utmost priority. Being a medical student, I like to share my opinions and views on different aspects of medical science in order to enlighten people with knowledge and to motivate them to become aware of their own health condition. We all need to remember that health comes first! So, I hope that my work will help out and benefit people and assist them to remain hale and hearty in their daily life. Zahin Ibnat MBBS (3rd year) Armed Forces Medical College, Bangladesh

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