Clindamycin Topical : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More

Why is this medication prescribed?

Topical clindamycin is used to treat acne. Clindamycin is in a class of drugs called lincomycin antibiotics. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of bacteria that cause acne and reducing swelling.

How should this medicine be used?

Topical clindamycin comes as a foam, gel, solution (liquid), lotion, and a compress (swab) to apply to the skin. Foam and a brand of gel (Clindagel®) are usually applied once a day. The solution, lotion, compresses, and most gel brands are applied twice a day. Apply topical clindamycin at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Use topical clindamycin exactly as directed. Do not apply more or less or apply more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Topical clindamycin is only for use on the skin. Do not swallow the medication and do not allow the medication to get in your eyes, nose, mouth, or vagina. If the medicine gets in your eyes, nose, or mouth, or on broken skin, rinse it off with plenty of cool water.

Your medicine will likely come with instructions for use. Read these instructions and follow them carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about applying topical clindamycin.

Shake the lotion well before each use to mix the medicine evenly.

Commitments are for single use only. Do not remove a compress from its foil pouch until you are ready to use it. Discard each garment after it has been worn once.

Foam can catch fire. Stay away from open flames and do not smoke while applying the foam and for a short time afterwards.

Other uses for this medicine

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before using topical clindamycin,

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to clindamycin, lincomycin (Lincocin), or any other medications.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention erythromycin (E.E.S., E-Mycin, Erythrocin, others) and any other medications that are applied to the skin. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you closely for side effects.
  • Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; a condition in which all or part of the lining of the intestine is inflamed, irritated, or has sores) or severe diarrhea caused by an antibiotic. Your doctor may tell you not to use topical clindamycin.
  • Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had asthma, eczema (sensitive skin that is often irritated or itchy), or allergies.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while using topical clindamycin, call your doctor.
  • If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using topical clindamycin.
  • You should know that abrasive or medicated soaps and skin products that contain alcohol can make the side effects of topical clindamycin worse. Talk to your doctor about the skin care products you plan to use during your treatment with topical clindamycin.
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What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply more medicine to make up for a forgotten dose.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Topical clindamycin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • dry or peeling skin
  • itching or burning skin
  • redness of skin
  • oily skin
  • new pimples or blemishes
  • headache

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • diarrhea
  • watery or bloody stools
  • stomach cramps

Topical clindamycin can cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medicine.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program ( or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not freeze. Do not expose clindamycin foam to temperatures above 120 ° F (49 ° C) and do not puncture or incinerate the container.

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Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and others cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA Safe Drug Disposal website ( for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, since many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not resistant to children and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or cannot wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.

What other information should I know?

Keep all your appointments with your doctor.

Don’t let anyone else use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you go into hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.

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Brand Names

  • Cleocin-T®
  • Clinda-Derm®
  • Clindagel®
  • Clindets®
  • C/T/S®
  • Evoclin®

Brand names of combination products

  • Veltin® (containing Clindamycin, Tretinoin)
  • Ziana® (containing Clindamycin, Tretinoin)

Disclaimer: DrLinex has made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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