Is Doxycycline a Penicillin? A Complete Guide on the Antibiotic

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People who show allergic reactions to penicillin are usually wary of being prescribed the drug and need an alternative treatment that allows them to refrain from it. When antibiotics are concerned, Doxycycline is so commonly prescribed that those who are allergic to penicillin need to ask, “is Doxycycline a penicillin?”.

This article explores the differences between Doxycycline and penicillin, their unique features, and when they should be used and not used for treatment. Read on to find out if you are searching for in-depth information on Doxycycline.

Although Doxycycline is commonly thought to be a form of penicillin, they are not related.

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Is Doxycycline a Penicillin?

Coming to the main question: “is Doxycycline a penicillin?”

The answer is: No.

Doxycycline provides preventative treatment, while penicillin kills bacteria. However, patients with hypersensitivity can experience challenges while taking penicillin, and that’s where Doxycycline comes in as an alternative. This drug is prescribed to those with a penicillin allergy.

Doxycycline is a Food and Drug Administration-approved medication that falls under the drug class of tetracycline antibiotics.

Doxycycline is a commonly prescribed tetracycline antibiotic.

Doxycycline comes in different brand names, including Acticlate, Doryx, Atridox, Vibramycin (in suspension form for doxycycline monohydrate and capsule form for doxycycline hyclate), Oracea, and others. Doxycycline can be found in the form of gel, tablet, or capsule.

On the other hand, penicillin was uncovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928. It is the first-ever antibiotic that changed the medical world for the better. Penicillin works by fighting bacteria cell walls to treat many infectious diseases and has saved hundreds of millions of lives.

Although the leading and first-ever antibiotic in the medical world, some people are deadly allergic to penicillin. And this is where alternative antibiotic treatments come in to save the day, as not everyone can be treated with penicillin.

Is there Penicillin in Doxycycline?

Doxycycline belongs to the antibiotics class of tetracyclines. Penicillins and tetracyclines are different types of antibiotics unrelated to each other. Consequently no, there is no penicillin in Doxycycline.

Doxycycline vs Penicillin

Now that we clarified that Doxycycline and Penicillin fall into different categories of antibiotics, it can be helpful to compare the two to see their shortcomings and upsides while educating ourselves on which one treats what.

Taking Vibramycin for doxycyclines and Penicillin VK for penicillin as an example. Still, penicillin is highly effective in clearing strep throat. Still, it isn’t as effective as Doxycycline in other parts of the body as our bodies developed immunity to penicillin in time. In this case, penicillin applies to only a very narrow range of areas, whereas Doxycycline can be used for any part of our bodies where we need antibacterial treatment.

Doxycyclines, however, make patients much more sensitive to sunlight, so it can become easier for them to get sunburnt or develop a rash from it. It also deems hormonal birth control less effective, and those who use Doxycycline for treatment may need to find alternative birth control while they are on this antibiotic.

Penicillin is easily and widely found as it’s a generic medicine, making it an affordable solution if what you need antibiotics for has anything to do with treating the three specific areas penicillin can treat. On the other hand, Doxycycline is there to save the day for those who are allergic to penicillin and can’t go through treatments that require antibiotics unless they can stay away from the medicine.

All in all, these antibiotics highly differ in the areas they cover and the side effects they come with, but each provides its treatment. You will need either one, depending on where your body is experiencing an infection or disease caused by bacteria.

What is Doxycycline used for?

Commonly prescribed by doctors for bacterial infections and severe acne treatment, there are several medical conditions Doxycycline is used for treatment, which include but are not limited to:

  • Urinary tract infections,
  • Eye infections,
  • Respiratory tract infection,
  • Periodontitis (gum disease)
  • Sexually transmitted infections include syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.

Doxycycline vs Penicillin: Which is more effective?

Doxycycline and penicillin work in different ways when fighting bacteria. When penicillin kills the existing, Doxycycline stops the overgrowth of it and acts more like a preventative treatment.

Doxycycline treats a broader range of health problems caused by bacteria, whereas penicillin can only be used for infections in the throat, nose, and ears.

There is no conclusive answer to which one is more effective, as they fall into the same extensive category of medication but under very different titles that fight with differing health conditions.

What is penicillin used for?

Penicillin is used to treat infections caused by bacteria.

Your doctor may prescribe you penicillin if you have any of the following medical conditions:

  • Urinary tract infection,
  • Infection of the lungs, throat, or nose,
  • Skin infection,
  • Ear infection,
  • Dental infection,
  • Other diseases related to bacteria.

Doxycycline Side Effects

Doxycycline comes with various adverse effects, which range from common to severe. Here are the ones to be moderately concerned about, which should be temporary and last up to a couple of weeks at most:

  • Hives,
  • Rash,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Vomiting and nausea,
  • Appetite loss,
  • Temporary teeth discoloration in adults, which can be cleaned away with a dentist when Doxycycline treatment ends,
  • Sensitivity to the sun.

If, for any reason, you see that these side effects cause prolonged discomfort to you, consulting a medical professional may become a necessity.

Doxycycline also comes with some severe side effects, which can be listed as:

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea: Symptoms include bloody or severe diarrhea, fever, dehydration, loss of appetite and weight loss, or stomach cramping and pain.

Feeling pressure inside the skull: Symptoms include vision loss, blurry or double vision, and headache.

Irritation or ulcers in the esophagus (this risk is higher if you take the drug at bedtime). Symptoms include anemia or a burning feeling and pain in the chest area.

Pancreatitis: Symptoms include pain in the upper abdomen or pain starting in the abdomen, which moves to your back or becomes severe when eating.

Critical skin reactions like blisters, peeling skin, and rash in the form of minor purple spots.

If you have a medical emergency that may threaten your life, call your doctor immediately or contact 911 in case of experiencing severe side effects.

Is Doxycycline a Penicillin

Penicillin Side Effects

The most commonly seen side effects of penicillin can be listed as follows:

  • Headache,
  • Nausea,
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin hives and rashes
  • Side effects less commonly seen with penicillin use are:
  • Joint pain,
  • Red or scaly skin,
  • Irregular breathing or difficulty when breathing,
  • Fainting or sudden lightheadedness,
  • Redness or puffiness of the face,
  • Sore tongue or mouth, with rare patches white in color,
  • Vaginal discharge or itching as a consequence of a yeast infection,
  • Abdominal tenderness, cramps, pain, or spasms.
  • Rare side effects of penicillin use can be listed as:
  • Hallucinations,
  • Sore throat,
  • Convulsions,
  • Fear, anxiety, or confusion,
  • Unusual bleeding,
  • Reduced urination and diarrhea,
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes.

Who Should Avoid Taking Doxycycline

If you have any medical conditions that require you not to go through treatment with Doxycycline, ask your doctor for a different treatment. Those with the health conditions listed below should refrain from using Doxycycline:

  • Lupus,
  • Intracranial hypertension,
  • Liver disease,
  • Vaginal or oral yeast infections,
  • People who have undergone surgery for health conditions related to their stomach, kidney, or asthma.

If you want to make sure your birth control pills don’t become less effective, ask for alternative medication to Doxycycline, as drug interactions show that hormonal birth control loses its effect when the patient is put on a Doxycycline treatment.

Doxycycline Hyclate is also not advised to be used by women during pregnancy. Taking this medicine can cause permanent tooth discoloration in the later life stages of your child while also affecting their bone development during your pregnancy. In addition, it shouldn’t be used when breastfeeding, as you can pass it to the infant through breast milk.

This drug shouldn’t be used by children, especially under the age of eight. Children younger than eight years old can permanently have yellow or gray teeth with the use of Doxycycline.

Doxycycline – Penicillin Allergy

A majority of patients self-diagnose themselves with a penicillin allergy. Still, it is only up to the 10 percent who seriously showcase allergic reactions in the first 72 hours of being administered the substance.

Patients who have shown vague symptoms of gastrointestinal problems in the past usually fall into the category of those who aren’t allergic to penicillin. Still, doctors accept the patient’s medical history without putting them through severe penicillin allergy tests.

Penicillin allergy is often found in patients with Type I allergy who showcase features of bronchospasm, urticaria, hypotension, laryngeal edema, or local swelling within the first 72 hours of taking penicillin. In addition, patients who experience a pruritic rash even after the 72-hour mark should also not take penicillin for their treatment.

On the other hand, Doxycycline has proven to be the reason for photosensitivity in a tiny minority of patients who take the drug. Although few seriously concerning cases were reported until the last three years, as shared in a 2019 National Library of Medicine article on Tetracycline Allergy, allergic reactions of Doxycycline patients are the least when compared with other drugs of the category.

What to Avoid While Taking Doxycycline

For a more effective treatment process and to avoid drug interaction that might cause other problems to your health, there are things you should avoid when taking Doxycycline. These can be listed as:

  • Taking antacids, multivitamins, iron or calcium supplements, or laxatives 2 hours after or before taking Doxycycline,
  • Taking other antibiotics,
  • Too much exposure to sunlight or using tanning beds (as Doxycycline makes you prone to getting sunburned easily).

Make sure to wear protective clothing against sun rays and use sunscreen with high levels of SPF if you spend time outdoors.

Effects of Combining Doxycycline and Penicillin

Doxycycline monohydrate combined with penicillin can reduce the effect of penicillin. However, these drugs tend to cancel out the benefits they provide to the patients and therefore are not advised to be taken together.

Make sure you inform your doctor about existing medicinal treatments and what drugs you use daily when you get a consultation that ends up prescribing Doxycycline or penicillin when you are already on either. In addition, your doctor should know all the supplements and medication you use to ensure you are put on an effective treatment rather than one that eliminates what the current one is trying to cure you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Doxycycline monohydrate is a unique antibiotic regarding the range of medical conditions and cases it helps our bodies fight and recover from. In addition, it destroys numerous bugs and bacteria many other antibiotics can’t, as it penetrates deep into our tissues and reaches organisms that cause STIs or even malaria. 

If your body is receptive and shows a positive response to it, Doxycycline can take up to 2 days to treat infections caused by bacteria. 

It’s best to stick to simple meals that aren’t rich or filled with spicy food when you are on Doxycycline. Having dairy products with or right around the time you take your medication should also be avoided so as not to upset your stomach. In case of feeling dehydrated, don’t forget to increase your water intake or have some squash. 

Doxycycline alcohol mixture is not as risky as taking alcohol with other medications, and the two are generally safe to combine when it comes to antibiotic use. Still, it will be best to stay away from it if you have a liver condition, alcoholism problem, or other medications you use that don’t go well with alcohol. 

Aside from contacting your healthcare provider, in case you develop sunburn when you are on a Doxycycline treatment, for discomfort relief, you can use moisturizers with soy or aloe vera to soothe your skin. 

Yes, you can. Those who are allergic to penicillin and can’t take it for their treatment are prescribed Doxycycline instead.

There is. Doxycycline was prescribed, and maybe still is, by some doctors to fight the respiratory symptoms of Covid-19.

A February 2022 study found that the antibiotics helped Covid-19 patients reduce their need to be admitted to intensive care units when they took medicine regularly. What’s more, is that not a single patient stopped treatment because of adverse events.

Is Doxycycline a penicillin? Find Out More About it From Your Health Solutions Provider, Doctor Alexa.

Any chance you are crying out loud, saying, “Doxycycline ruined my life!”? It might be time to consult a medical professional to see what else can help you treat your medical condition.

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The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

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