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  • Clindamycin


    Clindamycin is an antibiotic. Antibiotics work by suppressing the growth of bacteria that contribute to acne symptoms.

    Clindamycin is available in Oral and Topical formulations. Topical antibiotics can be used to treat all types of acne, while oral antibiotics are usually reserved for patients with serious symptoms.

    Overall, Clindamycin is rated as a Good treatment for acne. Users report that, Clindamycin is Somewhat Effective for improving acne symptoms and that this medication tends to have Mild side effects.

    Ratings Breakdown

    Clindamycin RatingsScore
    Side Effects1.96
    User Recommended35.71%
    Antibiotic Susceptibility3.78
    Antibiotic Resistance2.50
    Editor Rating4.00
    Table Key: Green is Good, Red is Bad

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    The Basics

    Clindamycin Composite Score

    Clindamycin (Cleocin) Overall Score - Scale: 1 (WORST) to 5 (BEST)

    Type of Treatment: Rx MedicationAntibiotic (Oral and Topical) - Lincosamide Family

    How It Works: Clindamycin is an antibiotic. Antibiotics can improve acne symptoms by limiting the growth of bacteria that contribute to Acne Vulgaris.

    When is this medication used? Clindamycin is is used for the treatment of all types of acne, from very mild to severe (Acne Types: 1-4).  In cases of moderate to severe acne (Acne Types: 3-4), clindamycin is often combined with complementary treatments.

    Frequency of clindamycin Resistant P. acnes Bacteria: Common. (What does this mean?)

    Official Name: Clindamycin
    Popular Brand Names: Cleocin, Dalacin, Duac (Clindamycin and Benzoyl Peroxide) and Zindaclin.
    Related Medications: Lincomycin, Novobiocin, Erythromycin, Azithromycin, Clarithromycin.

    Important Note: The information provided on this site is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any diseases. The Science of Acne strongly encourages you to consult a qualified medical professional before making any treatment decisions. For the complete disclaimer, click here.

    Clindamycin and Acne

    Topical clindamycin is one of the most popular topical antibiotics for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Oral clindamycin is also available, but is not commonly used for the treatment of acne.  For individuals with macrolide-susceptible P. acnes infections, topically applied clindamycin can be an effective treatment.

    Topical antibiotics are generally more effective against mild to moderate acne vulgaris (Acne Types: 1-2), and are less effective in treating severe or inflammatory acne (Acne Types: 3-4).  Topical clindamycin is often combined with additional medications (topical retinoids, oral retinoids and benzoyl peroxide) or treatments (light and laser therapy) to improve the overall outcome of treatment.  Topical clindamycin treatments tend to have few side effects and are generally well tolerated by patients.

    Patient Reviews of Clindamycin

    Clindamycin (Cleocin) Effectiveness Score

    Clindamycin Effectiveness Score - Scale: 1 (NOT EFFECTIVE) to 5 (VERY EFFECTIVE)

    Clindamycin is one of the most commonly used medications to treat acne vulgaris.  Clindamycin is generally well reviewed by acne patients. Clindamycin can be very effective against mild to moderate acne.  However, bacterial resistance to clindamycin is common, and increasing.  Clindamycin-resistant P. acnes bacteria are involved in many cases of acne vulgaris. Topical clindamycin is generally not completely effective as monotherapy (used alone) against moderate to severe inflammatory acne.

    The EFFECTIVENESS ranking is based on patient reports of how effective this medication was at improving their acne symptoms.

    This ranking is scored on a scale of 1 (NOT EFFECTIVE) to 5 (VERY EFFECTIVE).

    Share Your Experience with Clindamycin – Rate This Medication

    Additional Patient Reviews of Clindamycin:, WebMD,,,,, and

    Cost and Availability of Clindamycin

    If possible, Clindamycin should be obtained through consultation of a physician.  Most doctors and dermatologists are comfortable with this medication and it is commonly prescribed as a topical treatment for acne vulgaris.  The use of oral clindamycin to treat acne vulgaris is less common.  Both the oral and topical forms of clindamycin are widely available in both brand name and generic formulations.  In generic form, both the topical and oral forms of clindamycin are moderately expensive.  Compound formulations that combine clindamycin with other medications are also common, but are often available only in brand name formulations.  These compound medications are often significantly more expensive than basic clindamycin.

    Clindamycin Side Effects

    Clindamycin (Cleocin) Side Effects

    Clindamycin (Cleocin) Side Effects Score - Scale: 1 (NONE) to 5 (SEVERE)

    The ADVERSE EFFECTS ranking is based on patient reports about the adverse effects and side effects that they experienced with this medication.

    This ranking is scored on a scale of 1 (NO SIDE EFFECTS) to 5 (SEVERE SIDE EFFECTS).

    Topical clindamycin has relatively few reported adverse effects.  Some patients may experience skin irritation or allergic reaction.  In rare cases, patients may experience severe allergic reactions.

    Oral clindamycin has many of the same potential side effects as oral macrolide antibiotics, like azithromycin and clarithromycin.  The most common problems are gastro-intestinal upset.  Allergic reactions are also possible.  These reactions often include symptoms like fever, skin rash, joint pain, nausea and headaches.  The extended use of certain oral antibiotics, like clindamycin, increases patients risk of certain opportunistic infections by opportunistic pathogens, like Clostridium dificile bacteria.

    Share Your Experience with Clindamycin – Rate This Medication

    For more in-depth information about potential side effects of clindamycin treatment, refer to the physician’s insert for topical clindamycin and oral clindamycin, or consult a medical professional.  For more information about contraindications in general, refer to Avoiding Negative Drug Interactions.

    Clindamycin Background

    Clindamycin (Cleocin) Molecule

    Clindamycin is a lincosamide antibiotic that is structurally and functionally similar to the macrolide family of antibiotics (eg. erythromycin, clarithromycin, azithromycin).  The antibiotic inhibits bacterial growth by preventing susceptible bacteria from synthesizing new proteins.  Clindamycin is most effective in treating infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria and anaerobic Gram-negative bacteria.  It is active against Propionibacterium acnes, as well as many forms of Streptoccocus and Staphyloccocus bacteria.

    Clindamycin is available in both oral and topical formulations.  Topical clindamycin is used to treat several types of skin infection, including acne vulgaris.  Oral clindamycin is not frequently used to many bacterial infections.  Oral clindamycin is rarely used in the treatment of acne vulgaris.  Oral clindamycin is sometimes used as a treatment for malaria (caused by a protozoa).

    Bacterial resistance to clindamycin (and resistance to macrolides in general) is becoming a major problem in many parts of the world, particularly in the highly developed countries of North America and Europe.  Bacteria that are resistant to clindamycin are usually resistant to most macrolide antibiotics, and vice versa.

    Additional Names for Clindamycin: Acanya (Clindamycin and Benzoyl Peroxide), Acnestop, Aknezel, Basocin, BenzaClin (Clindamycin and Benzoyl Peroxide), Borophen, Chlorodeoxylincomycin, Chlorolincomycin, Cindac-A, Clidacin, Clidamacin, Clidets, Clinacnyl, Clincin, Clinda-Derm, Clinda-saar, Clindac, Clindacne, Clindacin, Clindagel, Clindahexal, Clindamicin, Clindamicina, Clindamycin Hydrochloride, Clindamycin Phosphate, Clindamycine, Clindamycini, Clindamycinum, Clindamyl, Clindasol, Clindesse, Clindoxyl (Clindamycin and Benzoyl Peroxide), Clinimycin, Cutaclin, Dalacine, Dalagis, Danatrol, Evoclin, Handaramin, Indoxyl, Klimicin, Klindamicin, Lindan, Lintacin, Midocin, Myclin, Paradis, Prolic, Sobelin, Toliken, Topicil, Velac (Clindamycin and Tretinoin), Ziana (Clindamycin and Tretinoin) and Zindacline.

    Related Articles from The Science of Acne

    Clindamycin User Reviews (Comprehensive)
    Avoiding Negative Drug Interactions
    A Guide to Buying Prescription Medications on the Internet
    Prescription Medications Used in Acne Treatment
    What causes acne?

    References and Sources


    PDR Staff Writers. 2011. 2011 Physicians’ Desk Reference
    Gallagher. 2011. Antibiotics Simplified, Second Edition
    Habif. 2009. Clinical Dermatology
    Goodheart. 2006. Acne For Dummies
    Bartlett. 2012. Johns Hopkins Antibiotics Guide 2012

    Online Resources

    PubMed Health - The National Institute of Health (US)
    Clindamycin @ Wikipedia
    Physician’s Inserts for Topical Clindamycin
    Physician’s Inserts for oral Clindamycin

    Scientific Research Articles

    1. Becker, et al. 1981.  Topical clindamycin therapy for acne vulgaris. A cooperative clinical study.
    2. Tucker, et al. 2006. Erythromycin 2% gel in comparison with clindamycin phosphate 1% solution in acne vulgaris.
    3. Lleyden, et al. 1987. Treatment of acne with a combination clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide gel compared with clindamycin gel, benzoyl peroxide gel and vehicle gel: Combined results of two double-blind investigations.
    4. Lookingbill, et al. 1997. A randomized, double-blind comparison of a clindamycin phosphate/benzoyl peroxide gel formulation and a matching clindamycin gel with respect to microbiologic activity and clinical efficacy in the topical treatment of acne vulgaris.
    5.  Cunliffe, et al. 2002.  A multicentre, single-blind, randomized comparison of a fixed clindamycin phosphate/tretinoin gel formulation (Velac®) applied once daily and a clindamycin lotion formulation (Dalacin T®) applied twice daily in the topical treatment of acne vulgaris.
    6. Zouboulis, et al. 2003.  Two randomized, double-blind, controlled trials of 2219 subjects to compare the combination clindamycin/tretinoin hydrogel with each agent alone and vehicle for the treatment of acne vulgaris.
    7. Leyden, et al. 2005.  An aqueous gel fixed combination of clindamycin phosphate 1.2% and benzoyl peroxide 2.5% for the once-daily treatment of moderate to severe acne vulgaris: Assessment of efficacy and safety in 2813 patients.
    8. Thiboutot, et al. 2008.  Efficacy of fixed low-dose isotretinoin (20 mg, alternate days) with topical clindamycin gel in moderately severe acne vulgaris.
    9. Sardana, et al. 2009.  Comparison of efficacy of Azithromycin vs. Clindamycin and Erythromycin in the treatment of mild to moderate acne vulgaris.

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