Clindamycin for Killing Acne Bacteria & Calming Inflammations

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Clindamycin solution prescribed along with Antibiotic azithromycin tablets

Clindamycin is an antibiotic which is bacteria-static (inhibits the growth of bacteria) and bactericidal (kills the bacteria). Clindamycin is also anti-inflammatory so it calms down red inflamed pimples and reduces the burden of bacteria that contributes to acne formation (acne pathogenesis). It is helpful for reducing the red inflammatory bumps.


It is common to use a topical clindamycin with an oral antibiotic.


Clindamycin is an effective acne treatment when combined with other medications like oral antibiotics. Tretinoin, or benzoyl peroxide. It is not recommended for long term use as an acne treatment as the bacteria is prone to develop resistance from clindamycin with long term use.

Prescribed for

  • Acne treatment
  • Ingrown hair
  • Staph folliculitis
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Will Clindamycin get rid of your acne

Clindamycin can be helpful for acne treatment when used in conjunction with other treatment/medication. It is not a standalone acne treatment. For example, if you are prescribed a topical clindamycin along with an oral antibiotic, you will see improvement in inflammatory lesions of acne and resolution of those lesions much faster than if you only used an oral antibiotic alone. A study also showed that when the oral antibiotics were stopped, a person who was using the topical clindamycin with the oral antibiotic had a lower chance of acne coming back or flaring.

What Clindamycin Cannot Do

  • It does not unclog the pores. It is merely anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial
  • It does not help in making the skin cells more properly and not clog up the pores like a retinoid would.
  • It won’t reduce the appearance of acne scar (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) like a Tretinoin would. However, if you have red inflamed lesions of acne that have a high risk of healing with a scar, Clindamycin can reduce the chances of healing with a scar left out.
  • Does not affect the oily or shiny skin or appearance of your pore size.


Problems with Clindamycin

  1. Emergence of Bacterial resistance:

The main limitation which means that the bacteria develops resistance to clindamycin and its use does not affect the bacteria anymore. That is why it is prescribed along with other medications like benzoyl peroxide to reduce the chances of building bacterial resistance.

  1. Gram negative folliculitis:

Although very rare, long term use of clindamycin can lead to a condition called gram negative folliculitis. It looks like acne but it is not acne at all and is very difficult to treat.

Clindamycin and Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide is an ingredient that is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and it can also break up clogged up pores. Unlike clindamycin and other antibiotics, there are no reported incidents of bacterial resistance with the use of benzoyl peroxide. In fact, when clindamycin is used in combination with benzoyl peroxide, the emergence of bacterial resistance with clindamycin use is significantly reduced. 

Clindamycin and Zinc

Zinc can help clindamycin function a little bit better in the skin, but it does not reduce the emergence of bacterial resistance as benzoyl peroxide does. 


While topical clindamycin is very helpful for acne treatment regimens, it is more of a temporary initial control for acne treatment and is not considered as a long-term treatment due to the risk of developing bacterial resistance. The goal is to actually stop using it and replace it with long term use of well-controlled ingredients like salicylic acid cleanser, benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin or adapalene. You would not be using oral and topical antibiotics for long because of the concern of bacterial resistance emerging.

Clindamycin and Pregnancy

The usage of clindamycin for pregnant or breastfeeding women is said to be probably safe but rarely you could have some negative consequences. So discuss with your doctor if it is extremely necessary to use clindamycin

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