Sydney is a contributing health writer and editor who enjoys shedding light on health topics, making information available to anyone who wants it, and ending stigmas or lack of access to care and treatment.
Dr. Aaron Wiegmann
Dr. Wiegmann earned his medical degree (M.D.) from Rush Medical College and completed his General Surgery residency at Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Hospital. He has a Master's Degree (M.S.) in clinical research and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles.
April 12, 2021
Doxycycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is used for many infections caused by bacteria and certain parasites. Doxycycline for tick bites is one of the most widely recognized uses today though. Doxycycline is the first-line remedy for Lyme disease, a common infection spread by deer tick bites. If the tick can be identified, doxycycline is used for prophylaxis as well as treatment.
Some examples of conditions treated by doxycycline include:
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As any frequent hiker knows, a tick bite can be bad news and should be attended to quickly, the sooner you can get treatment, the better. Taking doxycycline for a tick bite at the first sign is the best way to ensure that no dangerous bacterial infection takes hold.
If a tick is found attached to your skin, first remove carefully by grasping firmly with fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp at the closest point possible to the skin, and pull firmly but gently. Do not twist, as this can detach the head and leave it in the skin.
If the tick can be identified as a deer tick or wood tick (these are smaller than the common dog tick), then starting doxycycline for the tick bite can be beneficial as a preventative measure against Lyme disease. If possible, save the tick for identification–in areas high in tick-borne diseases, a doctor may be well-versed in identifying the carriers.
If you are unable to identify the tick or do not have it available for ID, it might not be necessary to start antibiotic treatment, but it might be a good plan to get a doctor’s opinion. See your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following after receiving a tick bite:
Doxycycline for tick bites is most effective when given as soon as possible after an infected bite. For those who can ID a bite from a high risk tick doxycycline is given (100 mg orally BID for 14 days) as prophylaxis. Those with symptoms should see their doctor as soon as possible to begin treatment for the disease. You can make an appointment with a doctor online through our partner, PlushCare.
The length of time to take doxycycline for a tick bite depends entirely on whether it’s to be used as prophylaxis (preventative) care, or for an active infection. For a patient who lives in a high-risk tick area, a doctor may prescribe a single dose of doxycycline 200mg to prevent Lyme disease. However, a full 14 to 21 day dose is more common, as the single dose’s effectiveness is a point of controversy.
For those who have been diagnosed with an active case of Lyme disease, a health professional will typically prescribe a three week course of doxycycline to ensure that the bacteria has been entirely cleared from the body.
In the case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, doxycycline is taken only after onset of symptoms for a course of 5 to 7 days.
Efficacy of doxycycline for a tick bite correlates to the speed of diagnosis. For the best results in treating both Lyme’s disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, see a health professional immediately if bitten by a tick in a high-risk tick area.
Doxycycline for Lyme Disease:
Doxycycline for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
In the case of either disease, prompt treatment is best. See your doctor as soon as possible if you are bitten in a high-risk tick area, and try to preserve the tick that was removed for identification.
While doxycycline for tick bites is the most common use, this antibiotics can be used for a variety of things. Among them is surprisingly for anthrax exposure.
“Doxycycline is also used to treat or prevent anthrax (a serious infection that may be spread on purpose as part of a bioterror attack)”, explains Mayo Clinic, “in people who may have been exposed to anthrax in the air, and to treat plague and tularemia (serious infections that may be spread on purpose as part of a bioterror attack).”
The first sign of Lyme disease is often a target shaped rash at the bite site, which can make identification simple even without the tick. However, this can be missed if the bite is in an out of site area (such as the scalp), or if the Lyme disease has been present for a longer period of time.
If your medical professional suspects Lyme or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, they will then prescribe a course of doxycycline appropriate to the diagnosis. (14 days for Lyme prevention, 3 weeks for active treatment; 5 to 7 day course for the treatment of Rocky Mountain spotted fever.)
Doxycycline for a tick bite can be found online; however it is important to be able to identify that you were bitten by a tick, and better still if you have that tick for identification. Both Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are difficult to diagnose. Their symptoms are similar to a variety of other ailments, and are often misdiagnosed at first.
For telehealth appointments, be sure to have a clear photograph of the tick that was removed. If you do not have the tick, be sure to share that you were hiking in a high-risk tick area, and that you suspect a tick bite.
These medications can be purchased quickly and securely online and sent to your door. The doctor can also send a prescription directly to your local pharmacy for almost immediate pick up. Make an appointment through our partner PlushCare to get an appointment within minutes and speak to a licensed physician about doxycycline for tick bites.
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