Nausea with Doxycycline: What strategies can help reduce nausea?

Doxycycline and Nausea

Doxycycline is an antibiotic. It's used of course in treating infections but it is commonly used for a variety of scarring alopecias including lichen planopilaris, frontal fibrosing alopecia, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, folliculitis decalvans and sometimes dissecting cellulitis.

The drugs has two important properties: it stops infection and reduces inflammation. For some conditions such as lichen planopilaris, it's the anti-inflammatory properties that are useful. For other conditions such as folliculitis decalvans, it's the anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are key. 

The drug has a number of potential side effects even though it is generally well tolerated for most. It can cause nausea, vomitting, sun sensitivity, headaches, increased chance of yeast infections in women, rash. 


Doxycycline and Nausea

Some patients developed considerable nausea with doxycycline. Some will even vomit.  This can be a short term issue for some users which improves over time. For others it is something that continues and may even require the patient to stop the medication.  Anyone with nausea from doxycycline should speak to their prescriber for advice on how to reduce the nausea. 


Tips to reduce nausea

1.  Take doxycycline with food. Unlike tetracycline, doxycycline still gets absorbed quite well into the blood stream if the patient takes it with food. The food intake really helps to reduce nausea and this should be encouraged

2.  Avoid spicy foods with the doxycycline. Anything that upsets the stomach has the potential to makes things worse with doxycycline. I generally recommend avoiding spicy foods with doxycycline. 

3. Take Gravol.  If nausea continues despite food intake, dimenhydrate (Gravol) can be used 1 hours before the doxycycline is taken. I generally recommend starting with 25 mg Gravol and then 50 mg and then 100 to see what dose can help reduce the nausea. Gravol can make people drowsy and sleepy so this needs to be considered if one is driving or doing anything that requires focus. 

4. Use Ginger. Ginger is also a helpful anti-nausea treatment. There are a number of candies, lozenges on the market that contain ginger and can be used prior to the patient taking the doxycycline. The company that makes Gravol also has a product "Ginger-Gravol" which can be very helpful. this does not contain Gravol and therefore does not cause drowsiness.

5. Reducing the doxycycline dose. For some users, the nausea is dose related. Reducing the dose can help.


Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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