Clindamycin is an antibiotic - to treat acne, it is applied to the skin as a lotion, solution, or gel.
Apply the preparation to all of the affected area of skin, not just to individual spots.
The most common side-effect is mild skin irritation.
About clindamycin skin preparations
|Type of medicine||An antibiotic skin preparation|
|Also called||Dalacin T®; Zindaclin®; |
Duac® Once Daily (clindamycin with benzoyl peroxide); Treclin® (clindamycin with tretinoin)
|Available as||Solution, lotion and gel|
Acne is the common cause of spots. Most people with acne are aged between 12 and 25 years, but some older and younger people are affected too. Small sebaceous glands lie just under your skin surface and make an oil (sebum) that keeps your skin supple and smooth. Tiny pores on your skin allow the sebum to come on to the surface of your skin. In acne, some of these pores become blocked, causing inflamed spots.
Antibiotics like clindamycin, work by stopping bacteria that can contribute to acne from multiplying. One brand of clindamycin (Duac® Once Daily gel) also contains benzoyl peroxide, which helps to unplug blocked pores. Clindamycin is also available in combination with tretinoin in a gel called Treclin®.
Clindamycin is also available as capsules to take by mouth, and as a cream for vaginal infection. These are used for other conditions, not acne. There are two separate medicine leaflets available which provide more information about these, called Clindamycin capsules for infection and Clindamycin cream for bacterial vaginosis.
Before using clindamycin skin preparations
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start using clindamycin on your skin, it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding. (Although clindamycin is not known to be harmful to an unborn baby, you should let your doctor know if you think you are pregnant.)
- If you have any bowel problems which cause you to have diarrhoea.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine or a skin preparation.
How to use clindamycin skin preparations
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about clindamycin, and it will also explain how to use the preparation you have been prescribed.
- Apply the preparation exactly as your doctor tells you to. Wash and gently dry your skin, and then apply a thin layer to the whole of the area where your spots occur. The label on the pack will tell you how many times a day to use the preparation. Some clindamycin skin preparations are used once each day, others are used twice a day. Wash your hands well after using it.
- Dalacin T® topical solution contains a small amount of alcohol which can cause stinging if it gets into grazes, or on to sensitive areas of skin. If you are using this brand of clindamycin, try to avoid getting it on areas of your skin in or around your nostrils, your eyes and your mouth.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep any regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. A full course of treatment may last for several months.
- It is recommended that you use a mild soap and lukewarm water to wash with, as very hot or cold water may worsen acne. Do not wash more than you normally do. You cannot clean off blackheads.
- During your treatment your doctor may ask you to use another (non-antibiotic) skin preparation from time to time. It is important that you follow your doctor's advice, as this is to help prevent your spots from becoming resistant to treatment.
Can clindamycin skin preparations cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with clindamycin when used on the skin. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Very common clindamycin side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Skin irritation, itching, dryness or oiliness||Stop using the preparation for a day or so to allow your skin to recover. These effects usually reduce as your skin gets used to the preparation, but if they continue or become troublesome, you should speak with your doctor|
|Less common clindamycin side-effects (these affect fewer than 1 in 100 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Diarrhoea||Contact your doctor for further advice before applying any more of the preparation|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the preparation, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store clindamycin skin preparations
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
This preparation is for external use only. If someone swallows some of it, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking or using.
This preparation is for you. Never give it to other people, even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this preparation, ask your pharmacist for further advice.
Further reading and references
Manufacturer's PIL, Dalacin® T Topical Solution/Topical Lotion; Pfizer Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated July 2018.
British National Formulary, 79th Edition (Mar 2020); British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.