Topical Antibiotic
Compare To Other Treatments

The following side effects are expected to occur with the use of erythromycin. Contact your doctor if these symptoms are severe and/or do not go away:

How Common (based on clinical studies)

Skin peelingUp to 33% of all users
Redness and/or warmth in the areaUp to 24% of all users
Skin drynessUp to 12.9% of all users
Increased skin oilinessUp to 9.7% of all users
Itching Up to 9.7% of all users
Burning, stinging or tingling sensationUp to 8% of all users
Skin tightnessUp to 1.25% of all users

Erythromycin may cause some side effects that are serious. If you experience any of the following uncommon side effects, get in touch with your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical treatment:

  • A sudden appearance of swelling and rash (known as hives)
  • Severe abdominal pain or cramps
  • Irritation or swelling of the eye or eyelid
  • Signs of fungal infection in the skin or nails such as discoloration, itching, or irritation
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Appearance of blood or mucus in stool
  • Swelling of any parts of the face

Erythromycin may also cause other side effects that are not mentioned here. Contact your doctor if you experience any other troublesome symptoms when using erythromycin. 

  1. UpToDate. Erythromycin (topical): drug information. Available from: Cited 1 February, 2017
  2. Lesher JL, et al.  An evaluation of a 2% erythromycin ointment in the topical therapy of acne vulgaris. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 12(3), 526-531 (1985).
  3. Leyden JJ, Shalita AR, Saatjian GD, and Sefton J. Erythromycin 2% gel in comparison with clindamycin phosphate 1% solution in acne vulgaris. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 16(4), 822-827 (1987).
  4. Morel P, et al. Clinical efficacy and safety of a topical combination of retinaldehyde 0.1% with erythromycin 4% in acne vulgaris. Clinical and experimental dermatology 24 (5), 354-357 (1999).
  5. Thiboutot D, Jarratt M, Rich P, Rist T, Rodriguez D, and Levy S. A randomized, parallel, vehicle-controlled comparison of two erythromycin/benzoyl peroxide preparations for acne vulgaris. Clinical therapeutics 24(5), 773-785 (2002). 
  6. Marazzi P, Boorman GC, Donald AE, and Davies HD. Clinical evaluation of double strength Isotrexin™ versus Benzamycin® in the topical treatment of mild to moderate acne vulgaris. Journal of dermatological treatment 13(3), 111-117 (2002).
  7. Plewig G, Holland KT, and Nenoff P. Clinical and bacteriological evaluation of nadifloxacin 1% cream in patients with acne vulgaris: a double-blind, phase III comparison study versus erythromycin 2% cream. European Journal of Dermatology 16(1), 48-55 (2006).
  8. Pazoki-Toroudi H, et al. Combination of azelaic acid 5% and erythromycin 2% in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Journal of Dermatological Treatment 21(3), 212-216 (2010).
  9. Leyden JJ, Hickman JG, Jarratt MT, Stewart DM, and Levy SF. The efficacy and safety of a combination benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin topical gel compared with benzoyl peroxide alone and a benzoyl peroxide/erythromycin combination product. J. Cutan. Med. Surg. 5(1), 37-42 (2001)
  10. Gupta AK, Lynde CW, Kunynetz RA, Amin S, Choi K, and Goldstein E.  A randomized, double-blind, multicenter, parallel group study to compare relative efficacies of the topical gels 3% erythromycin/5% benzoyl peroxide and 0.025% tretinoin/erythromycin 4% in the treatment of moderate acne vulgaris of the face. J. Cutan. Med. Surg. 7(1), 31-7 (2003).