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Tetracyclines

By Hans P. Schlecht, MD, MSc, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine ; Christopher Bruno, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine

Tetracyclines are a group of antibiotics used to treat many different bacterial infections.

Tetracyclines include the following:

  • Doxycycline

  • Minocycline

  • Tetracycline

Tetracyclines work by preventing bacteria from producing proteins they need to grow and multiply.

Tetracyclines should not be taken with products that contain aluminum, calcium, magnesium, or iron. Such products include some antacids and many vitamin and mineral supplements.

Tetracycline should be taken when the stomach is empty because food reduces its absorption. However, food does not reduce the absorption of doxycycline or minocycline.

Tetracyclines

Drug

Common Uses

Some Side Effects

Doxycycline

Minocycline

Tetracycline

Skin infections caused by susceptible bacteria that are resistant to other antibiotics, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

Gastrointestinal upset

Sensitivity to sunlight

Staining of teeth in the fetus if used late in pregnancy or in children under 8 years of age

Use of Tetracyclines During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Pregnant women should not take tetracyclines. These drugs can affect tooth and bone development in the fetus and, if taken late in pregnancy, can cause permanent staining of the fetus's teeth.

Use of tetracyclines during breastfeeding is usually discouraged.

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