Clindamycin for the Treatment of Acne – Proper Use

Clindamycin for acne
Medically reviewed by Dr. Mavra Farrukh

Key Takeaways

  • To use Clindamycin safely and effectively for different skin types and conditions, consult a doctor, as with any acne treatment.
  • Clindamycin is frequently prescribed alongside other acne medications, like benzoyl peroxide.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions for applying Clindamycin gel or cream to the affected areas of the skin once or twice a day.


Treating acne, particularly cystic acne can be difficult. Clindamycin is a well-known antibiotic for its effectiveness in treating bacterial infections. Topical Clindamycin is used as a therapeutic option for acne management. The acne-causing bacterium Propionibacterium acnes is inhibited in its growth by application of the acne medicine Clindamycin.

This blog thoroughly covers details on how to use it, including the correct dosage. Whether you are new to Clindamycin or just want some pointers on how to use it effectively, you should read up on how this antibiotic can help with acne.

How does Clindamycin for acne work?

One member of the Lincosamide class of antibiotics is Clindamycin. Its principal mode of action in the context of treating acne is by preventing the proliferation of bacteria. Clindamycin is effective against the acne-causing bacterium Propionibacterium acnes. Clindamycin helps decrease inflammation and the formation of acne lesions by suppressing the growth of this bacteria.

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What are the Clindamycin formulations for acne?

Various topical formulations of clindamycin are used to treat acne, and it is important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable option for your specific needs. The formulations include:

Topical Clindamycin phosphate solution

  • A common formulation for treating acne is applied once or twice daily to the affected area.

Topical Clindamycin foam

  • Utilizes a foam-based formulation for direct application to the affected area.

Topical Clindamycin swab

  • This swab-based formulation allows for the application of a thin film of Clindamycin to the affected area. Each swab is designed for single use and should be discarded afterward.

Oral Clindamycin

  • In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe oral clindamycin in combination with topical clindamycin for a comprehensive acne treatment approach.

Combination Therapy

  • Clindamycin can be effectively combined with other medications, such as benzoyl peroxide, topical retinoids (e.g., tretinoin), and oral antibiotics (e.g., doxycycline, minocycline), to enhance the overall efficacy of acne treatment.

Topical application of Clindamycin

Dosage instructions for Clindamycin topical formulations (gels, creams, etc.) differ according to acne severity and individual reaction. Only a healthcare provider can decide on the precise dose and how often to administer it.

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How to use topical Clindamycin for acne?

Following simple points are the directions for using Clindamycin for acne:

  1. Cleanse the skin thoroughly before applying the topical Clindamycin. 
  2. Apply a small amount to the affected areas, spreading it evenly. 
  3. Avoid applying to broken or irritated skin.

Safety of topical Clindamycin for acne:

Clindamycin is generally considered safe for treating acne when used under the guidance and supervision of a healthcare professional. However, one must be aware of side effects and allergic reactions.

Side effects

Side effects, which can happen to some people, include things like dry skin, peeling, or irritation where the product was applied. Although these side effects are usually not severe, you must notify your healthcare provider if they continue or become worse.

Allergic reactions

It is uncommon, but Clindamycin can cause an allergic reaction. Itching, swelling, severe vertigo, or trouble breathing are some symptoms that should prompt you to seek medical help immediately.

Avoiding resistance:

Overuse or misuse of antibiotics like clindamycin can contribute to antibiotic resistance. You must not self-prescribe or share this medication and must use it precisely as directed to avoid resistance.

Consult with a healthcare professional

To find out what dosage and how to apply it best for individual cases, it’s important to talk to a doctor. Considerations such as the patient’s medical background, the intensity of acne, and the individual’s reaction define the range of possible dosages and methods of application. It is important to regularly monitor the skin’s reaction. Notifying the doctor immediately of any adverse reactions or failure to see improvement is crucial. Progress is evaluated, and treatment may be adjusted during follow-up visits.

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How long does it take to see results with Clindamycin for acne?

Topical Clindamycin usually improves skin within four to six weeks. A clinical study found that topical 1% Clindamycin reduced moderate inflammatory acne in eight weeks when used twice daily. Acne treatment may take 8–12 weeks to work. Even if acne improves, this medicine must be used full-time. Early stopping can cause antibiotic resistance.

What should I avoid while using Clindamycin?

The following points can be taken into account while using topical Clindamycin for acne:

  • Avoid applying other medications topically with Clindamycin to avoid skin irritation. Unless your doctor says otherwise.
  • When treating acne with Clindamycin, washing the affected areas too often can dry out the skin and worsen the acne, so avoid washing.
  • Do not wash your face often. Unless your skin is very oily, you should only wash your face twice or thrice daily with a gentle, bland soap.
  • Additionally, without first consulting your doctor, you should not apply any additional skin care products to the same skin region.
  • It is best to stick to water-based cosmetics and avoid oil-based products when using Clindamycin for acne.

Who cannot use Clindamycin solutions?

Most people have no problems taking Clindamycin; those with a history of asthma, eczema (a skin condition defined by excessively sensitive, itchy, or irritated skin), or allergies should let their healthcare provider know.

Notify your doctor if you are expecting a child, trying to conceive, or currently nursing, and your doctor will determine the safety of using Clindamycin for you. Avoid using topical Clindamycin or Clindamycin foam if you have a history of regional enteritis, ulcerative colitis, or colitis caused by antibiotics, including pseudomembranous colitis topical Clindamycin.

Other frequently asked questions

How strong is Clindamycin for acne?

Most moderate to mild cases of acne can be treated with Clindamycin. It is frequently prescribed with other medications such as benzoyl peroxide and topical retinoids when treating acne.

Does Clindamycin make acne worse before it gets better?

Yes, Clindamycin may temporarily worsen your acne. This is because Clindamycin eliminates the acne-causing bacteria, which can lead to a transient increase in acne symptoms while the bacteria die off. However, this is normal, and it means the medicine has the desired effect; after a few weeks, you should see a marked improvement in your acne.

Can I use moisturizer after applying Clindamycin?

Yes, after applying Clindamycin, it is safe to use a moisturizer. Apply a moisturizer after washing your face to keep your skin from getting too dry or red. To ensure proper absorption of Clindamycin, wait a few minutes after applying the medication before applying moisturizer. To further prevent acne-inducing pore blockage, use a moisturizer not classified as comedogenic.

Why can you not lie down after taking Clindamycin?

It is not advisable to lie down immediately after taking Clindamycin because it can potentially irritate your esophagus. Clindamycin can irritate and inflame the esophagus. This can be avoided by taking Clindamycin with a full glass of water and remaining upright (whether sitting or standing) for at least 30 minutes after the dose. If you do this, the medication will go straight to your stomach without irritating your esophagus.

Can I apply Clindamycin topically and take it orally at the same time?

No, using Clindamycin topically and orally at once is usually not advised because it can increase the chances of side effects. Nevertheless, your doctor may decide that you need both forms of Clindamycin for your treatment and prescribe them to you.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Guay, D. R. (2007). Topical clindamycin in the management of acne vulgaris. Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy8(15), 2625-2664.
  • Warner, G. T., & Plosker, G. L. (2002). Clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide gel: a review of its use in the management of acne. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology3, 349-360.
  • Kaur J, Sehgal VK, Gupta AK, Singh SP. A comparative study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of combination topical preparations in acne vulgaris. Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2015 May-Aug;5(2):106-10. doi: 10.4103/2229-516X.157155. PMID: 26097817; PMCID: PMC4456883.

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