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Tetracycline (On the skin)

Tetracycline (tet-ra-SYE-kleen)

Treats acne and skin infections.

Brand Name(s):

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to any tetracycline antibiotic (doxycycline, minocycline).

How to Use This Medicine:

Ointment, Liquid

  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to apply and how often. Do not use more medicine or apply it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • This medicine is for use on the skin only. Do not get it in your eyes, nose, or mouth. Do not use on skin areas that have cuts or scrapes. If it does get on these areas, rinse it off right away.
  • Wash the skin area with soap and water and pat it dry before applying the medicine.
  • Apply a thin layer of ointment to the affected area. Rub it in gently. You may cover the treated area with a gauze bandage unless your doctor has told you otherwise.
  • Apply the liquid medicine with the applicator provided. Use enough so that your skin feels wet, then rub the medicine in with your fingertips. To treat acne, cover the entire affected skin area, not just each pimple.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after applying the medicine.
  • The liquid form of this medicine contains alcohol. Do not use near heat or flame or while you are smoking.
  • Keep using this medicine for the full treatment time, even if you feel better after the first few doses. Your infection may not clear up if you stop using the medicine too soon.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, apply it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to apply the medicine and skip the missed dose.
  • Do not apply extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store the medicine at room temperature, away from heat and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using any other skin medicines (prescription or nonprescription) on the same skin area where you are applying tetracycline. Wait at least 1 hour after using tetracycline before you apply another medicine to the same skin area.
  • Do not use cosmetics or other skin care products on the treated skin areas.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Tell your doctor if your skin infection does not improve or if it gets worse within 2 weeks of using this medicine.
  • It may take up to 6 weeks for your acne to improve. Tell your doctor if your acne does not improve or if it gets worse after 6 to 8 weeks of using this medicine.
  • This medicine may stain your clothing. You may also notice a yellow color of the treated skin areas, especially around your hairline. You may wash this coloring off, but be careful not to wash the medicine off of the treated skin areas.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling where the medicine was used

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Dry or peeling skin
  • Mild itching, stinging, or burning where the medicine was used

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 5/1/2020

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