Clindamycin (Topical)

Prescribed for patients with skin problems, Clindamycin is normally used to control and manage acne.


As an antibiotic, Clindamycin is available in various forms. When prescribed topically, it is normally used to manage acne. Physicians can prescribe Clindamycin as a lotion, foam, pad or gel but it is often given in a solution format.

It is believed that acne is caused or aggravated by the presence of bacteria. Clindamycin works by inhibiting the growth of bacteria and, therefore, causes acne to reduce. In order to survive, bacteria cells must replicate. When Clindamycin is applied, however, it interferes with the bacteria's ability to make proteins. As a result, the bacteria can no longer thrive and the symptoms it causes are reduced.

As Clindamycin is an antibiotic, it may not be the first medication given to patients with acne or other skin problems. If other medications have failed to treat the patient's condition, Clindamycin may be used in conjunction with other medicines.

Although acne tends to cause painful physical symptoms, many patients also feel embarrassed about the condition. Despite being a very common skin condition, many sufferers feel self-conscious about acne breakouts. By prescribing Clindamycin, physicians can help to relieve the discomfort and swelling associated with acne, as well as helping to minimize the patient's embarrassment regarding the condition.

Conditions Treated

  • Acne

Type of Medicine

  • Lincomycin/Lincosamide Antibiotic

Side Effects

When prescribed orally or administered intravenously, Clindamycin is associated with a number of side effects. If Clindamycin is prescribed for topical use, however, the strength of the antibiotic tends to be far weaker and not as many side effects are reported when the medicine is used in this format.

In some cases, patients may experience rare side-effects when using Clindamycin and these require medical attention. While they may not require discontinuation of treatment, the following side-effects should be assessed by a medical professional:

  • style="font-weight: 400;">Unusual weight loss
  • Stomach cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe bloating
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Increase in thirst
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin irritations which were not present prior to use
  • Rash on the skin, swelling, itching and/or redness

In some cases, patients may experience some mild side-effects when they start using Clindamycin. Generally, these side-effects will be reduced one the patient's body becomes used to the medication but they may include:

  • Peeling of the skin
  • Dry or scaly skin
  • Mild diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Oiliness of the skin
  • Burning sensation or stinging of the skin
  • Mild skin irritation

Although these side-effects do not affect all patients and are normally fairly mild, patients should seek medical help if they find them troublesome. Similarly, if the patient experiences other side-effects or if the adverse effects are severe and/or prolonged, they should contact their physician for advice.

Experiencing side-effects is not uncommon when using prescription medications. Providing they are not harmful and the patient tolerates them well, this should not prevent the individual from continuing with Clindamycin treatment.

Patients can report side-effects to the Food and Drug Administration, if they experience them when using Clindamycin in a topical format. By contacting the FDA on 1-800-FDA-1088, patients can report the side-effects they've experienced.


When doctors prescribe Clindamycin, or any medication, they will provide specific instructions to the patient. These will include how often to use the medicine and when is the best time to apply or administer it.

If topical Clindamycin is prescribed for the treatment of acne, the standard dose will vary depending on what type of liquid the patient is given. If Clindamycin is prescribed as a foam, for example, most patients will be advised to apply it just once a day to the affected areas. If prescribed as a gel or solution, however, the standard dose is a twice daily application, to the affected areas.

Whilst most patients respond well to these standard dosing strategies, they aren't applicable to every individual. Doctors will prescribe medication according to the patient's conditions and needs. As a result, each treatment plan is different and patients should follow their physician's instructions when using Clindamycin.

Patients should not use more Clindamycin than their doctor has recommended and they should not use the medication more often than has been recommended. If topical Clindamycin is overused, it can increase the risk of side-effects occurring and is likely to cause skin irritation.

Patients should not apply topical Clindamycin straight after washing and/or shaving. Doing so could lead to increased irritation and discomfort. Patients are normally advised to wait at least thirty minutes between washing or shaving and applying Clindamycin.

Topical Clindamycin in solution form

When Clindamycin is prescribed in solution form, it will typically be given to the patient in a container with an applicator. The applicator should be used to apply the medication directly to the skin. Rather than rolling the applicator across the skin, patients are normally advised to dab the applicator on to the affected areas.

By tilting the container and pressing the applicator onto the skin, patients can release as much medicine as they require.

Topical Clindamycin in foam form

When using Clindamycin as a foam, patients should not attempt to dispense the substance on to their fingertips or hands. This will result in the medication melting before the patient is able to apply it to the relevant areas.

Instead, patients can dispense the foam into the cap or on to an alternative cool and clean surface. Following this, patients can take a small amount of the foam on to their fingers and gently massage it onto the affected areas of the skin. Patients should continue to massage the mixture onto the skin until the foam disappears.

If patients dispense too much Clindamycin, it should simply be disposed of and not saved for reuse. If the foam is difficult to dispense, patients can try running the container under cool water briefly as this can help to reduce the temperature and makes the foam easier to work with.

As topical Clindamycin contains alcohol, it can cause burning and/or stinging when it is first applied to the skin. Furthermore, it can irritate the lips, eyes and mucous membranes, so should be kept away from these areas.

Patients should continue using Clindamycin as they have been instructed to, even if their symptoms begin to reduce. Although Clindamycin is an effective way of managing acne, patients will need to keep using the topical medication, unless they are advised to discontinue treatment by a medical professional.

If patients accidentally miss a dose of topical Clindamycin, they can simply apply the medication when they remember to do so. If the next dose is almost due, however, the missed dose should be skipped and patients should continue with their regular treatment schedule. Patients should not attempt to apply a double dose of topical Clindamycin as this can lead to an increase in side-effects.

Potential Drug Interactions

If patients are prescribed more than one medication at the same time, it may be possible for the medicines to interact. Although this does not necessarily mean that the combination is harmful, it may affect the efficacy of the medications.

In most instances, Clindamycin is not prescribed alongside:

  • Erythromycin
  • Cholera Vaccine, Live

The following medications may increase the risk of side-effects if they are taken at the same time as Clindamycin:

  • Metocurine
  • Tubocurarine
  • Atacurium

Although patients may face an increased risk of side-effects if they are taken one of the drugs listed above at the same time as Clindamycin, this doesn't mean that they can't be prescribed together. In some instances, modifying the dose or spacing the medications out can prevent interactions from occurring.

When patients are prescribed Clindamycin, they should tell their doctor if they are taking any other medications. In addition to this, they should let their physician know if they are using any over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and/or herbal or sports supplements. Once the doctor has this information, they can determine whether treatment with Clindamycin is suitable for the patient.

If patients purchase over-the-counter medications, vitamins and/or herbal or sports supplements once they are taking Clindamycin, they should seek medical advice before taking or using them.


Clindamycin contains alcohol and, in most cases, the topical liquid is flammable. Patients should not, therefore, use or store the medication around an open flame or heat. Similarly, patients should not smoke anywhere near the medication.

When applying topical Clindamycin, patients should avoid the eye, nose and mouth areas. If Clindamycin gets into the eyes, it is likely to burn and/or skin. If this occurs, patients should wash their eyes with cool water to remove the solution, gel or foam. If the burning or pain continues, patients should seek medical help.

Clindamycin is often prescribed to adults and teenagers but it is not typically given to children under the age of twelve years old.

If patients have an existing stomach problem or intestinal disease, such as colitis, Clindamycin may not be a suitable treatment for them. Patients with a history of stomach conditions may experience more stomach-related side-effects when using this medication.

When used topically, Clindamycin is not thought to present a significant risk to pregnant patients or an unborn fetus. Despite this, patients should discuss any concerns and potential risks with their doctor before using this medication whilst pregnant.

If patients become pregnant while using topical Clindamycin, they should contact their physician for medical advice.

It is not yet known if topical Clindamycin can be passed on to an infant via breastfeeding. If the patient is currently breastfeeding or plans to breastfeed whilst using a topical solution of Clindamycin, they should discuss the risks with their doctor before doing so.

Although some patients notice an improvement in their condition fairly quickly, Clindamycin can take weeks to take full effects. Patients should persist with treatment, unless they are advised otherwise by their doctor. If their condition has not improved within a few weeks of using topical Clindamycin, or if their condition worsens, patients should contact their doctor for further advice.

If patients are due to undergo surgery or a surgical procedure, they should inform their surgeon that they are using topical Clindamycin. Patients may need to stop using Clindamycin temporarily before the operation or surgical procedure so will need to discuss this with the relevant medical professionals in advance.

When using Clindamycin, patients should ensure that the medication does not enter their mouths. If it does, patients may notice an unpleasant taste. If patients are concerned that they have swallowed Clindamycin meant for topical use, they should seek medical help or contact a Poison Control Center for advice. Patients can contact a Poison Control Center on 1-800-222-1222.

If patients are using Clindamycin and experience diarrhea, they should not take any anti-diarrhea medication without seeking medical advice. The long-term use of antibiotics can increase the risk of intestinal problems and diarrhea may indicate that an infection has occurred. If diarrhea contains blood or is watery, patients should contact their doctor for advice.

When using topical Clindamycin for the treatment of acne, patients should discuss their skincare regime with their physician. Often, strong cleansers and soaps can be too harsh when used in conjunction with Clindamycin and this could make the patient's symptoms worse. Patients are not normally advised to use strong anti-acne products whilst applying topical Clindamycin and should seek medical advice before doing so.

Before using Clindamycin, patients should inform their doctor if they have ever suffered from any other skin problems or conditions. A history of eczema, for example, may result in dry skin occurring when patients use topical Clindamycin.

Similarly, patients should inform their physician if they have ever suffered from asthma. This may affect the suitability of Clindamycin as a treatment so it's vital that patients disclose their full medical history before beginning any treatment.

Before using topical Clindamycin, patients should tell their doctor if they have any allergies or if they have ever exhibiting an allergic response to any substances. Patients should also read the ingredients label of their medication to ensure that it does not contain anything that they are allergic to.

Although it is uncommon, patients may develop an allergic reaction when using topical Clindamycin. If a severe allergic reaction occurs, patients may have trouble breathing and they may wheeze. In addition to this, patients may experience swelling of their face and/or throat and they may also experience itching. If patients exhibit these symptoms, it's vital that they access medical help quickly. Allergic reactions can be life-threatening and should always be treated as a medical emergency.


When patients are prescribed Clindamycin, they will be advised to use the medication at home. This means that patients will need to find somewhere safe to store the medicine. It is particularly important that children and/or pets cannot access medicines within the home. Using a designated medicine cabinet or a locked medical box can help to prevent anyone from accessing your prescription of Clindamycin and any other medications you may have.

Generally, topical Clindamycin should be kept at room temperature and should not be frozen or exposed to heat. In addition to this, Clindamycin should be kept out of direct sunlight and away from moisture. In most cases, Clindamycin should not be stored in the bathroom as the area can become too hot and condensation or moisture is likely to be present.

If patients are advised to stop using Clindamycin, they will need to dispose of the medication. Similarly, if the patient finishes a container of Clindamycin, they will need to dispose of the empty canister or bottle. When medication reaches its use-by date, it should be thrown out, even if some of the medicine still remains in the container.

When disposing of medication, however, it's important that patients act in a safe and responsible manner. Clindamycin should not be thrown out with regular household waste, for example, as this could pose a risk to people.

When disposing of Clindamycin, it's important to consider the type of medication the patient has been using. The foam canister, in particular, needs to be disposed of with care. It should not be damaged, incinerated or punctured as this could cause the container to explode.

Generally, the safest way to dispose of unused medications is to seek help from a pharmacist and/or medical clinic. Patients can normally access a medical waste disposal service via their physician or pharmacist and this is usually the most responsible way to dispose of any medicines, including topical Clindamycin.


Acne is an extremely common condition and it affects millions of people each year. The condition can take various forms, however, and it can vary in severity quite considerably. Whilst some patients may develop a mild form of acne, others could exhibit signs of severe acne, such as swelling, lesions, pustules, nodules and/or cysts.

When severe acne occurs, patients can suffer from significant pain and discomfort. Although patients sometimes take pain relieving medication to limit the symptoms of acne, this is rarely a long-term solution. Using a topical medication, such as Clindamycin, can provide long-lasting relief from the symptoms of acne.

Although topical Clindamycin won't cure acne, it does provide an adequate way of managing the condition. As many people find acne to be embarrassing, as well as painful, minimizing the appearance of papules, pustules, nodules and cysts can be extremely important for them.

By prescribing topical Clindamycin to patients suffering from acne, doctors can provide relief from the physical symptoms. As their condition improves, many patients also report an improvement in their emotional wellbeing and an increase in their level of self-confidence.

When patients are first diagnosed with acne, other treatments may be tried. If these fail or if the condition is particularly severe, treatment with topical Clindamycin is likely to provide an effective way to manage the condition and reduce the associated symptoms on a long-term basis.