Physical Health, Wellness / Self-Care

Need help with your Acne? Try Clindamycin

When prescription strength is required.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Mar 12, 2022

When you’re dealing with acne and you’ve exhausted all of the at-home treatments—the glycolic acid serums, the salicylic acid toners, the mandelic acid peels, the soothing cica balms—and your acne is still not clearing up, it might be time to move on to the big guns.


And by big guns, we mean the prescriptions. Sometimes, your acne needs an intervention from a dermatologist. So today, we’d like to introduce you to a popular, prescription-only acne treatment: Clindamycin.


We break down all the details about this acne-fighting prescription below.


What is clindamycin?

Clindamycin is an oral and topical antibiotic treatment that’s designed to treat acne. Clindamycin is an antibiotic. It’s most commonly used in an oral form to treat various types of infections that can affect the body. It’s also very specifically used for skin infections because of its coverage of the typical bacteria that cover and affect the skin. However, in the way of acne treatments, it’s used as a topical treatment, not as an oral form.


It’s often used as a trial treatment, because it’s difficult to gauge how the acne will respond to it. Not every type of acne will respond to this. Sometimes acne can be hormonal, which means it won’t respond well to clindamycin.


Also, it’s not clear why some people are responders and others are not, and why some people with the P. Acne’s colonization on the skin never forms acne, while others do. While it can be used for all types of acne, it is most commonly prescribed in the setting of mild-to-moderate inflammatory acne and can be used in conjunction with oral medications in the setting of severe acne. Inflammatory acne often refers to breakouts that are red bumps and pustules.


Benefits of clindamycin for acne

Reduces acne-causing bacteria: One of the biggest benefits of clindamycin for acne is that it decreases acne-causing bacteria. As an antibiotic, it helps to reduce acne-causing bacteria, and can be particularly helpful for inflammatory acne.


Pregnancy-safe option for acne: If you’re pregnant, your options for safe acne treatments are limited, since it’s not safe to use treatments like retinol or salicylic acid. “[Clindamycin] is considered pregnancy-safe so it is a good option for those who are pregnant and looking to treat their acne.”


Minimal side effects: Most of it would be related to the ingredients of alcohol, which can create some burning sensation to the skin and dryness.


Decrease inflammation in pores: You can decrease the potential for infection and inflammation of the pores, which leads to acne from occurring.


Side effects

Overall, clindamycin is incredibly safe for most, if not all skin types. However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with a few caveats. As with any topical ingredient, it can lead to irritation or dryness. In some cases, prolonged use of antibiotics can trigger a different type of breakout, known as pityrosporum folliculitis, which should be evaluated by a dermatologist. If you notice that your skin is getting significantly worse, then it’s time to contact your doctor, so they can assess what steps to take next.


There’s no real skin type or group of people that would have to avoid using clindamycin. It’s a pretty safe, broad class of antibiotics, that can be used as a primary treatment for acne. It is also often combined with Retin-A, as well as benzoyl peroxide. The three of those typically become a standard first-line treatment for most acne cases.


Oh, and yes, clindamycin does make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to stock up on the sunscreens and apply them daily.


Speaking of sunscreen…


Photo via Morningside Pharmaceuticals