Doxycycline for Malaria

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Doxycycline for Malaria


Generic NameBrand Name

How It Works

Doxycycline is an antibiotic that prevents the development of parasites in the blood that cause malaria. Doxycycline does not destroy the Plasmodium (P.)vivaxand/or P. ovale parasites that may remain in the liver.

You take doxycycline as a tablet (orally).

To prevent malaria, you take doxycycline 1 to 2 days before you travel to an area where malaria is present, daily while you are in the area, and daily for 4 weeks after you leave the area.1

To treat malaria, doxycycline is usually used along with quinine for 7 days.

Why It Is Used

Doxycycline is used to prevent malaria:

  • In chloroquine-resistant areas (where chloroquine is no longer effective against the parasite) when you cannot take mefloquine (for example, because of side effects).
  • If you will be traveling in certain areas of Thailand.

How Well It Works

Doxycycline is effective in the prevention of malaria.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.

Common side effects of doxycycline include:

  • Stomach upset, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Vaginal yeast infection.
  • Sensitivity to the sun that can cause severe sunburn, and sensitivity of the eyes to light (photosensitivity).

Side effects can be reduced by taking the medicine during a meal. But it is best to avoid dairy products or calcium or zinc supplements at the same time you take doxycycline, because these can affect how well your body uses the doxycycline.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Doxycycline is not used for children younger than age 9, because it may stain their teeth.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Hill DR, et al. (2006). The practice of travel medicine: Guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 43(12): 1499–1539.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerW. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last RevisedMay 14, 2012

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