Allergic Reaction to Minocycline

My problems started with a prescription to the two tone antibiotic, Minocycline. It is a member of the tetracycline family, which means if you are allergic to this one, then they consider you allergic to the whole family.

It might be helpful for you to know that I am a 41 year old, caucasian woman who is very "normal" in the health department. But, I have acne that has not responded to a spironolactone prescription, so I visited my family doctor to discuss the lack of benefits. She switched me to Minocycline, which I had never taken.

First Minocycline Pill

Allergic Reaction

Swollen Eyes by Djuliet, on Flickr,
Swollen Eyes by Djuliet, on Flickr,

On Friday night I took the first pill of Minocycline and woke up looking like I had had a hard night and that maybe my spouse punched me in the eye. It wasn't uncomfortable, so I thought that my sunglasses must be too heavy for my face. Really, this was my conclusion. I also thought that maybe all of the sagging and swelling was from an unusually strong gravitational pull or just plain old aging. In time I knew it would either get better or worse (smart girl).

Second and Third Minocycline Pills

On Sunday, I looked like the fight was twice as long and hard on my face. The creases in the inner part of my eyes had filled with fluid. Very Rocky-esque. This was not a sexy, post botox look. I had red, puffy, and swollen eyes, but no pain. Just scary looking.

On Monday, after having taken three Minocycline pills over the course of three days, I woke up knowing my body had not accepted the drug because of the little fluid filled hill-lets I could see when looking down my face. The mirror told me what I feared and that was I had become a big, red, swollen, unattractive mess needing professional help.

Minocycline Diagnosis

You know it isn't good when checking into a medical clinic, the person checking you in emphatically says they will "get you back to see someone as soon as possible." She probably thought my throat was about to close up or my face explode. My doctor was not in the office that day, so I saw one of her coworkers and he just said, "WHAT is going on?" Fortunately, he knew shortly into our conversation what was going on and told me to stop taking the Minocycline and that by the end of the week I would be back to normal. I was having an allergic reaction.

Minocycline Reaction

It turns out, unbeknownst to me, that Minocycline and its relatives in the Tetracycline family create this type of reaction in my body. Reactions differ, but swelling around the mouth and nose tends to be the most common. The reaction is not life threatening, just unsightly and not an anaphylaxis reaction that can close down your airway.

After stopping Minocycline

After stoppingĀ Minocycline, the swelling did get better, but it never completely went back to normal. Maybe 75 to 80% of the reaction lessened, but the residual response lingered for a month and prompted another visit to the doctor. Thinking my seasonal allergies were exasperating the situation, thought the doctor could recommend either a pharmaceutical solution or a referral. To my surprise, he said the eye area is so sensitive that the irritation sometimes does not completely heal after stopping the irritant and that the continued redness was part of the same initial reaction to the Minocycline. He prescribed a topical steroid for the remedy. Over the course of 4 or 5 hours, the cream made a huge improvement and my eyes were almost normal again.

My Minocycline Experience

This was an opportunity to share my experience but by no means do I know anything about these medications or how others might respond. Just want other people with similar experiences to know they are not alone. Below is a comments section where you can tell me about your experience.

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Has this happened to you? 34 comments

steve 6 years ago

thank you this was exactly what my daughter is going through.

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D.Virtual.Doctor 6 years ago from Europe

Its really nice sharing your experience. We the medical practitioners need to know such feedbacks for future consideration when recommending such drugs to subsequent patients. All synthetic drugs have their side effects (I mean all), but administration of such drugs is based on a balance between effectiveness and impact by side effects and that is why drugs are still prescribe if such an equilibrium is in favor of the patient in question. Its nice of you to share this... I hope you are okay now...


Heather 6 years ago

I started taking this about 1 to 2 wks ago. Didn't have any swelling at first just ungodly sickness. Thought I had the flu ( smart girl as well ) yesterday I laid down for a short nap and woke up with puffy eye lids almost like I had an infection. It went down, and today I laid down again and woke up to the same thing only slightly worse.

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Jessay 6 years ago from USA Author

Hopefully, you are better. It is a strange experience waking up to a swollen face. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Mel P 6 years ago

I was taking Minocycline for 2 weeks before I knew I was allergic. Started the day after Thansgiving with my scalp being extremely itchy, followed the next day but hives over most of my body and feet. Went to the ER and we given 60mg of Prednisone for 5 days. It did not get any better and 2 days later was back at the doctor. Had to get a shot of steriods, added 2 more days of predisone and hydorzyzine for the itching. Its been a week now and I am feeling much better, but not 100%.

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hub1956 6 years ago

I took Minocycline at bedtime for about 1 1/2 weeks before the adverse side effects began. Extreme flu like symptoms began as soon as I got up one morning. As the day went on I had a feeling of heavy pressure on the left side of my chest along with a headache and shortness of breath. My body felt very achy and the joint pain got worse as the day continued. Thinking that I was coming down with a cold or sinus infection, I began taking OTC cold medicine. The cold medicine eased the body aches and joint pain but the chest pressure/shortness of breath continued. I did not take another tablet for several days and all the symptoms slowly diminished. I thought I was better and began the medicine again before going to bed. That night I was miserable. I did not sleep and the body aches/joint pain/nausea/headache/restless legs began again but seemed to be much worse. The pressure in the left side of my chest did not return (thank goodness). I have stopped taking the medicine and will contact my doctor first thing Monday morning. The minocycline was perscribed for six weeks to remedy the eye infection (red/itchy eyes, severe redness and itching of the eyelids and the skin under the eyes)that I have been dealing with for some time. Minocycline is definitely not something I can or will be taking again.

Has anyone else had such a severe reaction to this medicine?

Oz  6 years ago

I have been taking minocycline 100mg twice a day. At first I had no side effects what so ever. However after a week I started heaving headaches and they gradually got worse. It was when I started having neck pains, I stopped using Minocycline. Although I stopped using it, I never thought the pains were due to it - I thought it was from going out right after the shower which I often do. That same night I woke up with hives appearing in my body and towards the end of the day, my face got swollen (eyes and my inner lip.) At first I thought it was a food allergy, went to the doctor and got a full blood test (White blood cells, red cells, cholesterol, sugar, full allergy, almost everything.)

During the waiting period of my results (took about a week and a half) I was taking steroid pills for allergies and I got back to normal within 5 days. On the 8th day, I was like hmm lets take minocycline again, I wanna be proactive and not break out on acne again. I took one pill at night after 8 days of not using it, and the next day I got itchy hands and a few hives and then I realized it was the minocycline that I was reacting to. Luckily I only took one pill and over the counter allergy medicine such as zyrtec got rid off my itchiness and I am back to normal again.

So around 8-9 days later after I gave blood, the results came to my doctor. To my surprise everything came normal no allergies what so ever, no pollen, no nuts, no nuts, no dust completely NO ALLERGIES. My Red Blood cell count along with hematocrit came a little high but nothing else.

I am almost confident to say that minocycline was what I was reacting to and my doctor told me to stop taking it.

:( 6 years ago

I've been taking minocycline for around a month and a half before I realized that it was causing my swollen eyes that I would wake up with, but my last reaction seems to have lingered more. I got off minocycline about 5 days ago and my doctor subscribed Hydrocortisone 1% for the puffiness of my eye but its been a few days and they're better, but still not back to normal. How long did it take you to get your eyes back to norm after the steroid ointment??

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Jessay 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi Mel P,

Thanks for sharing your experience. Hope each day is better than the next.


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Jessay 6 years ago from USA Author

Dear hub1956,

Thanks for sharing your experience. It is interesting the different ways our bodies can react to medicines. It must have been frustrating feeling sick and not knowing the reason.

Take care,


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Jessay 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi Oz,

You certainly were thorough with the tests. Based on the test results, it might mean they don't have a way to test for it, but they do recognize a reaction when they see it? The silver lining in this is that you now know.


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Jessay 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi :(

It took about two weeks to look like myself. I have had occasional flare ups and my doctor says to use the cream again, so I do. Hope you are back to yourself soon.

Lisa 6 years ago

I took Minocycline for 2 weeks and then erupted in hives all the way from my toes to eyelids. The back of my became so swollen that I couldn't tilt my head back. It was the most intense itching imaginable- horrible!

Hystamines exploded everywhere i had constriction in clothing, so along waistline, pantyline, etc :-(.

I took prednisone and it cleared up within a few hours, however, the prednisone made me have night sweats, insomnia, and a general crappy feeling. lol

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Jessay 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi Lisa,

That sucks. Thanks for sharing. I guess the good part is that it becomes very obvious that you are allergic. There is no confusion.


Steph 5 years ago

I had been taking minocycline for about 2 weeks when I realized I was reacting to it. I'm 41, caucasion, and suffering from what has been described to me as "perimenopausal acne" -- (a strange symptom of perimenopause that seems to have emerged as our generation reaches this age, that was not seen in my mother's generation, but that is an entirely different rant for a different time and forum.) Looking back, the symptoms af allergic reaction were there early on, but I dismissed them. It is that time of year when seasonal allergies are rough, anyway, so some symptoms were hiding behind antihistamines I was already taking as needed. Sometimes my skin also reacts to high pollen counts, too, so I didn't panic when the initial itching began. It started with a few hives (so few that they might even be mistaken for bug bites)and itchy palms. I chalked it up to pollen or stress and what not and let it go. I think I'd been taking it a day, then. I continued to take minocycline for another 2 weeks, the itchy palms worsened over time and then I started getting hives in all the hot spots of my body (groin, armpits, behind the knees) and a few on my neck and forehead. I stopped taking it immediately. That was 5 days ago. Most of the hives are gone, but I still have itchy palms, and itchy skin, in general. I'll be calling the Dr. this morning. I guess it's time to try the spironolactone and hope my body likes that.

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Jessay 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Steph,

Sorry to read about what is going on. Hope you feel less itchy soon. I completely understand symptoms blending because my skin does the same thing. Annoying.

Good luck with treating your acne. Another annoyance. Who knew we would look like teenagers in our 40's?

Take care,


Steph 5 years ago

Thanks, Jess. and thanks for having this page, it was very comforting to find others with similar symptoms. I thought I was clear, but had a little hives epidsode again last night. Mine are always worse at night. I don't know if it's because I tend to take the antihistamines at night and then it gradually wears off during the day or if it's just I have more down time to notice it or both. This isn't my first rodeo with urticaria/angiodema, (hives/swelling of lips/eyes). I had them for 9 months. YES, 9 MONTHS,a few years back, as a reaction to a Mirena IUD. It was miserable, and this little episode brings back awful memories. On the bright side, that passed. It was all completely over about 2 weeks after I had the thing removed. I have to just keep reminding myself that this will pass, too. :)

Amarie 5 years ago

Thank you for sharing your experience. The same thing has happened to me. I was breaking out mildly, and visited my doctor. She gave me 100 g of minocycline and tactuo cream. I started taking the treatment on Saturday, and realized by Wednesday that my face felt very tight and dry. I expected that this was just a normal reaction to the treatment and continued for one more day until I woke up with puffy swollen, painful eyes. I immediately stopped taking the treatment, and went to the drug store to get some Benadryl. I visited my doctor the next day who said it was probably an allergic reaction to the Tactuo cream and not the minocycline. She wanted me to wait a week for the puffy eyes to clear up with the Benadryl and continue the minocycline once a week. After she said that, I realized I needed to change my family doctor. I needed a second opinion.

The second doctor recommended that I stopped taking everything completely. She prescribed 5 Prednisone tablets a day, and told me to put ice on my eye. I took the Prednisone the first day, but after reviewing comments of the hell drug, I decided that I didn't want these antibiotics in my system. The puffiness is slowly healing, but it's still here unfortunately.

I'm going to try my bets of just waiting until the minocycline, and pednisone are out of my system. Hopefully the benadryl will kick in soon.

This has been such a horrible experience, I can't imagine my eyes staying like this forever.

anna 4 years ago

Allergic reaction greatly differ from person to person, and I do not believe you should say that this reaction can not be life threatening, because it can be. I am allergic to minocycline and had to be transported to the hospital due to anaphylactic shock. While this medication may not be life threatening to you, others should not read this and believe that it is not for them, cuz it could be.

Sue A. 4 years ago

I took Tetracyclene for an infection 8 months ago, and

I have had a swelling and redness, and heat on my legs

for 8 months now, and no one has been able to find any relief for me. I have to sleep in a chair, because I

cannot get into bed. Can someone please help me no doctors I've been going to have been able to. God Bless whoever can help me.

Nicoletan 4 years ago

Almost a month taking minocycline once a day and I noticed 3 days ago that I'm itching my scalp, my palms & soles of my feet like crazy, it comes in waves really, Benadryl def helps. Strange for this to cause a reaction after so long. Strange to be itchy in such random places as well. I stopped taking it for a few days due to nothing more than forgetfulness and it was the day after I started taking it again that the itching began. Awesome.

dave from uk 4 years ago

i took Minocycline when i was 16 im 42 now. i took them for about four wks when the headaches aching started then sickness.bless my parents just thought i wanted to get out of working as i just started.any way two days later a rash that covered my whole body appeared doctor was called and rushed straight to hospital where i lost all my hair. my skin on my hands came off like a glove. my body was badly reacting to the Minocycline tablets which were new out then... i had so many biopsys ' lumber puncture 'lymph nodes taken out my groin armpits. well i spent 2 months in hospital still suffer now with poison in my armpits . my doctor said the tablets affect wood stay with me forever. hope this helps anyone .. dave.. uk

sara 4 years ago

Hi same proble

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Jessay 4 years ago from USA Author

Sorry to hear you had anaphylactic shock. Indeed, like with all medications, severe reactions and death are possibilities.

Thanks for sharing your comment and giving all of us another perspective.

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Jessay 4 years ago from USA Author

It is odd that symptoms can manifest anywhere.

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Jessay 4 years ago from USA Author

Yikes. What an intense experience. Thanks for sharing.

Tom 4 years ago

Thank you so much for posting this story. This has been an almost identical experience that i went to. Now, please note that I am actually being serious about this. I had these same reactions and was on the drug for 5 months because of a terrible doctor. He told me its normal to get some discoloration. My eye bags were as black as night. It has been 3 years since discontinuing the drug and the eye bags have not gone away. I have been to a few doctors and nobody knows what it is. Perhaps i will visit another clinic. I hope sometimes in the future it goes away. I'm happy that you figured out what the problem is so quickly and solved it. Nobody should have to go through such embaressement. I wear sunglasses everywhere I go out, and only occasionally due to norms take them off inside. I still get strange looks from people, most thinking i'm either sick or a drug addict.

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Jessay 4 years ago from USA Author

Wow, five months! That is not fun. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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HannahWasHereb4 3 years ago

After 102 day battle in the hospital, my 17 year-old daughter Hannah passed away in 2011 from Minocycline-Induced Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms Syndrome: Myocarditis Multiple Organ Failure. I have researched DRESS nonstop and search daily for others in crisis to bring awareness, create data and share what I've learned from this deadly med, no one should die treating pimples.

Lahela Barbadillo 3 years ago

I took Minocycline and right away notice my face started to itch and dryout.I did not take it again I stop taking it .I woke up the next morning under my eyes were puffy swollen and fat and redness under my eye area , my left upper and lower lip swelled.I went to the doctor and they gave my cetirizine It did nothing for me.I took cetirizine I woke up the 4 o'clock the morning with an itchy neck it was red and hive looking the doctor at the ER gave me benadryl and perdnisone it help me to sleep, my neck is still red and not as itchy ,I have to take benadryl predisone two times a day.The swelling under my eyes went down, but it still a little fat looking and my lips looks like its back to normal but it is so dry and I had to by cap stick under my eyes feels super dry and leathery, I put unrefined virgin coconut oily by Spectrum all over my face when it feels dry I hope and pray that soon my face go's back to normal.

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Jessay 3 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for sharing your experience. I am so sorry to learn of your loss. Sharing your knowledge will help someone out there in the webosphere.

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Jessay 3 years ago from USA Author

Hi Lahela,

My experience suggests your face will return to normal. This is just my experience and I realize everyone is different. For me, one day I realized that the puffiness, dryness and overall weirdness had changed. Hope the coconut oil is helping and that you are back to yourself soon.

Thanks for sharing and good luck!

polina 2 years ago

I finished apo minocycline course after 3 month. after a week after I finished course I started to have a bad allergy or breakouts. all skin itchy. I dont know what to do so

natasha 2 years ago

I had a similar experience with minocycline. Took 100 mg for 15 days and got hives 3 days back. They are all over my body. Eyes were as swollen as yours. But the swelling has come down now. The hives keep coming and going and they spread wherever I itch. Realized it was a side effect today. Have stopped taking the drug now. I'm worried if the drug has done some permanent damage to my body!

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