tetracycline

Pronunciation

Class Name: tetracycline (Topical application route)

Commonly used brand name(s)

In the U.S.

  • Adoxa CK
  • Adoxa TT
  • Cleeravue-M
  • Ocudox Convenience Kit

In Canada

  • Achromycin
  • Aureomycin

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Cream
  • Solution
  • Ointment

Uses For This Medicine

Tetracyclines belong to the family of medicines called antibiotics. The topical ointment forms are used to treat infections of the skin. Meclocycline cream and the topical liquid form of tetracycline are used to help control acne. They may be used alone or with one or more other medicines that are applied to the skin or taken by mouth for acne.

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Topical ointment forms of the tetracyclines are available without a prescription; however, your doctor may have special instructions on the proper use of these medicines for your medical problem. Meclocycline cream and the topical liquid form of tetracycline are available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before Using This Medicine

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to medicines in this group or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Tetracycline topical solution has been tested on a limited number of children 11 years of age or older and has not been shown to cause different side effects or problems in children than it does in adults. Although there is no specific information about the use of topical chlortetracycline or topical meclocycline in children, they are not expected to cause different side effects or problems in children than they do in adults.

Geriatric

Many medicines have not been tested in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information about the use of topical tetracyclines in the elderly.

Pregnancy

Studies have not been done in humans. In studies in rats and rabbits, chlortetracycline and tetracycline topical preparations have not been shown to cause birth defects or other problems. However, studies in rabbits have shown meclocycline to cause a slight delay in bone formation.

Breast Feeding

It is not known whether tetracycline topical preparations pass into breast milk. Although most medicines pass into breast milk in small amounts, many of them may be used safely while breast-feeding. Mothers who are using any of these medicines and who wish to breast-feed should discuss this with their doctor.

Interactions with Medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Proper Use of This Medicine

For patients using the cream form or topical liquid form of this medicine for acne:

  • The cream or topical liquid form of this medicine will not cure your acne. However, to help keep your acne under control, keep using this medicine for the full time of treatment, even if your symptoms begin to clear up after a few days. You may have to continue using this medicine every day for months or even longer in some cases. If you stop using this medicine too soon, your symptoms may return. It is important that you do not miss any doses.

For patients using the cream form of this medicine for acne:

  • Do not get this medicine on your clothing since it may stain.
  • Before applying this medicine, thoroughly wash the affected area with warm water and soap, rinse well, and pat dry.
  • To use:
    • Apply a thin film of medicine, using enough to cover the affected area lightly. You should apply the medicine to the whole area usually affected by acne, not just to the pimples themselves. This will help keep new pimples from breaking out.
    • Do not get this medicine in the eyes, nose, mouth, or on other mucous membranes. Spread the medicine away from these areas when applying.

For patients using the topical liquid form of this medicine for acne:

  • Do not get this medicine on your clothing since it may stain.
  • This medicine usually comes with patient instructions. Read these instructions carefully before using this medicine.
  • The liquid form contains alcohol and is flammable. Do not use near heat, near open flame, or while smoking.
  • Do not use after the expiration date on the label. The medicine may not work properly. Check with your pharmacist if you have any questions about this.
  • The presence of the floating plastic plug in the liquid means that the medicine has been mixed properly. Do not remove the plastic plug.
  • It is important that you do not use this medicine more often than your doctor ordered. It may cause your skin to become too dry or irritated.
  • Before applying this medicine, thoroughly wash the affected area with warm water and soap, rinse well, and pat dry. After washing or shaving, it is best to wait 30 minutes before applying this medicine. The alcohol in it may irritate freshly washed or shaved skin.
  • You should avoid washing the acne-affected areas too often. This may dry your skin and make your acne worse. Washing with a mild, bland soap 2 or 3 times a day should be enough, unless you have oily skin. If you have any questions about this, check with your doctor.
  • To use:
    • This medicine comes in a bottle with an applicator tip that may be used to apply the medicine directly to the skin. Use the applicator with a dabbing motion instead of a rolling motion (not like a roll-on deodorant, for example). Tilt the bottle and press the tip firmly against your skin. If needed, you can make the medicine flow faster from the applicator tip by slightly increasing the pressure against the skin. If the medicine flows too fast, use less pressure.
    • Apply a generous amount of medicine, using enough so that the skin feels wet all over. After applying the medicine with the applicator, use your fingertips to spread the medicine around evenly and rub it into your skin. A second coat may be needed to completely cover the affected areas. Be sure to wash the medicine off your hands afterward.
    • You should apply the medicine to the whole area usually affected by acne, not just to the pimples themselves. This will help keep new pimples from breaking out.
    • Since this medicine contains alcohol, it will sting or burn. Therefore, do not get this medicine in the eyes, nose, mouth, or on other mucous membranes. Spread the medicine away from these areas when applying. If this medicine does get in the eyes, wash them out immediately, but carefully, with large amounts of cool tap water. If your eyes still burn or are painful, check with your doctor.
  • The bottle contains about an 8-week supply of medicine if used only on the face and neck or about a 4-week supply if used on the face and neck plus other affected areas.

For patients using the topical ointment form of this medicine:

  • To help clear up your infection completely, keep using this medicine for the full time of treatment, even if your symptoms begin to clear up after a few days. If you stop using this medicine too soon, your symptoms may return. Do not miss any doses.
  • Do not get this medicine on your clothing since it may stain.
  • If you are using this medicine without a prescription, do not use it to treat deep wounds, puncture wounds, or serious burns without first checking with your health care professional.
  • Do not get this medicine in the eyes.
  • Before applying this medicine, thoroughly wash the affected area with warm water and soap, rinse well, and dry completely.
  • After applying this medicine, you may cover the treated area with a gauze dressing if you wish.

Dosing

The dose medicines in this class will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of these medicines. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For chlortetracycline
  • For topical dosage form (ointment):
    • For skin infections:
      • Adults and children—Use one or two times a day.
  • For meclocycline
  • For topical dosage form (cream):
    • For acne:
      • Adults and children—Use two times a day, morning and evening.
  • For tetracycline
  • For topical dosage form (ointment):
    • For skin infections:
      • Adults and children—Use one or two times a day.
  • For topical dosage form (solution):
    • For acne:
      • Adults and children over 11 years of age—Use two times a day, morning and evening.
      • Infants and children up to 11 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by the doctor.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.

Storage

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Precautions While Using This Medicine

For patients using either the cream form or the topical liquid form of this medicine for acne:

  • Some people may notice improvement in their acne within 4 to 6 weeks. However, if there is no improvement in your acne after you have used this medicine for 6 to 8 weeks or if it becomes worse, check with your health care professional. The treatment of acne may take up to 8 to 12 weeks before full improvement is seen.
  • If your doctor has ordered another medicine to be applied to the skin along with this medicine, it is best to wait at least 1 hour before you apply the second medicine. This may help keep your skin from becoming too irritated. Also, if the medicines are used too close together, they may not work properly.
  • The liquid form of this medicine may also cause the skin to become unusually dry, even with normal use. If this occurs, check with your doctor.
  • This medicine may cause faint yellowing of the skin, especially around hair roots. This may be more easily seen in people with light complexions. The color may be removed by washing. However, the medicine should be left on the skin as long as possible. Do not wash immediately after applying the medicine. To do so will keep the medicine from working properly. If the yellow color is bothersome during the daytime, the medicine may be applied after school or work and again at bedtime, unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
  • Treated areas of the skin may glow bright yellow under "black" (ultraviolet or UV) light such as that used in some discos. To help reduce or avoid this, apply the medicine later in the evening or wash it off before exposure to "black" light.
  • You may continue to use cosmetics (make-up) while you are using this medicine for acne. However, it is best to use only "water-base" cosmetics. Also, it is best not to use cosmetics too heavily or too often. They may make your acne worse. If you have any questions about this, check with your doctor.

For patients using the topical ointment form of this medicine:

  • If your skin infection does not improve within 2 weeks, or if it becomes worse, check with your health care professional.

Side Effects of This Medicine

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

Less common
  • Pain, redness, swelling, or other sign of irritation not present before use of this medicine

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More commonFor topical liquid form only
  • Dry or scaly skin
  • stinging or burning feeling
For cream and topical liquid forms only
  • Faint yellowing of the skin, especially around hair roots

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

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

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

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