Topical Antibiotic

What Is It?

Clindamycin is a topical antibiotic that helps slow or stop bacterial growth and also helps reduce skin inflammation.


Strength of Evidence
Average 55% reduction in acne after 8 weeks
  1. Shakiba, R. et al. Effect of Cedar (Ziziphus spina-christi) topical solution in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized clinical study. J Dermatolog Treat 32, 197–202 (2021).
  2. Islam, R., Islam, N. & Hossain, M. M. An assessment of the efficacy and safety of dapsone gel: Study in a local setting. Sch J App Med Sci 9, 549–553 (2021).
  3. Salmanian, M. et al. The Effects of Myrtle (Myrtus communis) and Clindamycin Topical Solution in the Treatment of Mild to Moderate Acne Vulgaris: A Comparative Split-Face Study. J Pharmacopuncture 23, 220–229 (2020).
  4. Mohammadi, S. et al. Evaluation of efficacy of niosomal clindamycin phosphate 1% solution in comparison to conventional clindamycin phosphate 1% solution in the treatment of acne vulgaris: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Pakistan Association of Dermatologists 30, 64–71 (2020).
  5. Dogra, S. et al. Efficacy and safety comparison of combination of 0.04% tretinoin microspheres plus 1% clindamycin versus their monotherapy in patients with acne vulgaris: a phase 3, randomized, double-blind study. Journal of Dermatological Treatment 0, 1–9 (2020).
  6. Xu, J. H. et al. A multicentre, randomized, single-blind comparison of topical clindamycin 1%/benzoyl peroxide 5% once-daily gel versus clindamycin 1% twice-daily gel in the treatment of mild to moderate acne vulgaris in Chinese patients. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 30, 1176–1182 (2016).
  7. Mokhtari, F. et al. Comparison effect of azithromycin gel 2% with clindamycin gel 1% in patients with acne. Adv Biomed Res 5, 72 (2016).
  8. Kawashima, M., Hashimoto, H., Alió Sáenz, A. B., Ono, M. & Yamada, M. Clindamycin phosphate 1·2%-benzoyl peroxide 3·0% fixed-dose combination gel has an effective and acceptable safety and tolerability profile for the treatment of acne vulgaris in Japanese patients: a phase III, multicentre, randomised, single-blinded, active-controlled, parallel-group study. Br J Dermatol 172, 494–503 (2015).
  9. Dréno, B. et al. Efficacy and safety of clindamycin phosphate 1.2%/tretinoin 0.025% formulation for the treatment of acne vulgaris: pooled analysis of data from three randomised, double-blind, parallel-group, phase III studies. Eur J Dermatol 24, 201–209 (2014).
  10. Khodaeiani, E., Fouladi, R. F., Amirnia, M., Saeidi, M. & Karimi, E. R. Topical 4% nicotinamide vs. 1% clindamycin in moderate inflammatory acne vulgaris. International Journal of Dermatology 52, 999–1004 (2013).
  11. Jarratt, M. T. & Brundage, T. Efficacy and safety of clindamycin-tretinoin gel versus clindamycin or tretinoin alone in acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled study. J Drugs Dermatol 11, 318–326 (2012).
  12. Guerra-Tapia, A. Effects of benzoyl peroxide 5% clindamycin combination gel versus adapalene 0.1% on quality of life in patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris: A randomized single-blind study. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology 11, 714–722 (2012).
  13. Eichenfield, L. F. & Alió Sáenz, A. B. Safety and efficacy of clindamycin phosphate 1.2%-benzoyl peroxide 3% fixed-dose combination gel for the treatment of acne vulgaris: a phase 3, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, active- and vehicle-controlled study. J Drugs Dermatol 10, 1382–1396 (2011).
  14. Seidler, E. M. & Kimball, A. B. Meta-analysis comparing efficacy of benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin, benzoyl peroxide with salicylic acid, and combination benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin in acne. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 63, 52–62 (2010).
  15. Lee, C. & Yoon, S. The efficacy of full-spectrum light generated by electrical discharge between two carbon arc rods for the treatment of acne compared to 1% topical clindamycin. in American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery abstracts 72 (2010).
  16. Ko, H.-C. et al. Prospective, open-label, comparative study of clindamycin 1%/benzoyl peroxide 5% gel with adapalene 0.1% gel in Asian acne patients: efficacy and tolerability. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 23, 245–250 (2009).
  17. Thiboutot, D. et al. 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. J Am Acad Dermatol 59, 792–800 (2008).
  18. Mohammad, S., Alireza, F., Hamidreza, P. & Samad Rezai, K. Comparison of topical azithromycin and clindamycin in the treatment of mild to moderate acne vulgaris. Iranian Journal of Dermatology 11, 67–72 (2008).
  19. Langner, A., Chu, A., Goulden, V. & Ambroziak, M. A randomized, single-blind comparison of topical clindamycin + benzoyl peroxide and adapalene in the treatment of mild to moderate facial acne vulgaris. British Journal of Dermatology 158, 122–129 (2008).
  20. Leyden, J. J., Krochmal, L. & Yaroshinsky, A. 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. J Am Acad Dermatol 54, 73–81 (2006).
  21. Gold, M. H. et al. A multicenter clinical evaluation of the treatment of mild to moderate inflammatory acne vulgaris of the face with visible blue light in comparison to topical 1% clindamycin antibiotic solution. J Drugs Dermatol 4, 64–70 (2005).
  22. Cunliffe, W. J. et al. An observer-blind parallel-group, randomized, multicentre clinical and microbiological study of a topical clindamycin/zinc gel and a topical clindamycin lotion in patients with mild/moderate acne. J Dermatolog Treat 16, 213–218 (2005).
  23. Rizer, R. L. et al. Clindamycin phosphate 1% gel in acne vulgaris. Adv Ther 18, 244–252 (2001).
  24. Richter, J. R., Förström, L. R., Kiistala, U. O. & Jung, E. G. Efficacy of the fixed 1.2% clindamycin phosphate, 0.025% tretinoin gel formulation (Velac) and a proprietary 0.025% tretinoin gel formulation (Aberela) in the topical control of facial acne. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 11, 227–233 (1998).
  25. Packman, A. M., Brown, R. H., Dunlap, F. E., Kraus, S. J. & Webster, G. F. Treatment of acne vulgaris: combination of 3% erythromycin and 5% benzoyl peroxide in a gel compared to clindamycin phosphate lotion. International Journal of Dermatology 35, 209–211 (1996).
  26. Shalita, A. R., Smith, J. G., Parish, L. C., Sofman, M. S. & Chalker, D. K. Topical nicotinamide compared with clindamycin gel in the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris. Int J Dermatol 34, 434–437 (1995).
  27. Sheehan-Dare, R. A., Papworth-Smith, J. & Cunliffe, W. J. A double-blind comparison of topical clindamycin and oral minocycline in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Acta Derm Venereol 70, 534–537 (1990).
  28. Schachner, L., Pestana, A. & Kittles, C. A clinical trial comparing the safety and efficacy of a topical erythromycin-zinc formulation with a topical clindamycin formulation. J Am Acad Dermatol 22, 489–495 (1990).
  29. Parker, F. A comparison of clindamycin 1% solution versus clindamycin 1% gel in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Int J Dermatol 26, 121–122 (1987).
  30. Leyden, J. J., Shalita, A. R., Saatjian, G. D. & Sefton, J. Erythromycin 2% gel in comparison with clindamycin phosphate 1% solution in acne vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol 16, 822–827 (1987).
  31. Katsambas, A., Towarky, A. A. & Stratigos, J. Topical clindamycin phosphate compared with oral tetracycline in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Br J Dermatol 116, 387–391 (1987).
  32. Tucker, S. B., Tausend, R., Cochran, R. & Flannigan, S. A. Comparison of topical clindamycin phosphate, benzoyl peroxide, and a combination of the two for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Br J Dermatol 110, 487–492 (1984).
  33. Shahlita, A. R., Smith, E. B. & Bauer, E. Topical erythromycin v clindamycin therapy for acne. A multicenter, double-blind comparison. Arch Dermatol 120, 351–355 (1984).
  34. Braathen, L. R. Topical clindamycin versus oral tetracycline and placebo in acne vulgaris. Scand J Infect Dis Suppl 43, 71–75 (1984).
  35. Gratton, D. et al. Topical clindamycin versus systemic tetracycline in the treatment of acne. Results of a multiclinic trial. J Am Acad Dermatol 7, 50–53 (1982).
  36. Padilla, R. S., Mccabe, J. M. & Becker, L. E. Topical tetracycline hydrochloride vs. topical clindamycin phosphate in the treatment of acne. International Journal of Dermatology 20, 445–448 (1981).
  37. Becker, L. E. et al. Topical clindamycin therapy for acne vulgaris. A cooperative clinical study. Arch Dermatol 117, 482–485 (1981).

Side Effects

Low side effects and adverse reactions's Real World Take

One of the less effective treatments out there. It should never be used on its own or for longer than 3 months and may lead to resistant strains of bacteria. May provide a slight improvement in mild acne in some people. Always be your own advocate and ask your doctor questions if they prescribe antibiotics.


669 Reviews