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What is Clindamycin Gel?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Clindamycin gel is an antibiotic medication available for treatment of acne. Patients apply the medication topically to kill bacteria and cut down on fatty acids on the surface of the skin, reducing the chances of developing clogged pores and acne spots. Patients must take this medication for the prescribed amount of time to make sure the treatment is complete, even if their acne starts to clear up, and it can take several weeks for patients to notice a difference, making it important to stick with the medication.

To use clindamycin gel, patients need to first wash and pat dry the skin in the involved area. A doctor may recommend using an acne-friendly soap, depending on the patient's situation. Next, the patient massages the medication into the skin in a thin layer, taking care to wash her hands thoroughly before and after the application. This medication is not for oral or mucosal use, and people should make sure to keep it away from the mouth and sensitive membranes around the eyes and nose.

Some patients experience tingling and stinging when they first apply the drug. If these symptoms do not resolve or patients develop a rash with peeling and other serious symptoms, they may be allergic to clindamycin gel and should stop taking the medication. A doctor can discuss available alternatives and help the patient select an appropriate replacement medication. This medication is also linked with gastrointestinal distress. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can be signs of an adverse reaction.

While on clindamycin gel, patients should be careful about handling their skin after applying the drug, as it can take some time to fully absorb and they may unwittingly pick up trace amounts of the antibiotic on their fingers. It is also important to apply the medication on a regular schedule to keep coverage even and consistent. Patients may also find it helpful to use specialty soaps to keep their skin clean and clear during treatment, and to continue using these products after clindamycin gel therapy to prevent future outbreaks.

Some patients do not respond to treatment with clindamycin gel or develop allergies and must stop. Alternative topical antibiotics, as well as other preparations are available as additional options to help patients with severe acne. A dermatologist can evaluate the patient and develop a list of potential alternatives to try. Patients should not be discouraged if the first line treatment does not work or if their acne appears to respond very slowly to the medication.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon287000 — On Aug 23, 2012

Does clindamycin gel work only for acne or for spots too?

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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