How Long Can You Use Topical Clindamycin for Acne?

Dermatology professionals take into consideration many factors when formulating an effective treatment plan for acne. When numerous painful and tender acne lesions are present, sometimes we slip a topical antibiotic called clindamycin into the regimen. Topical treatment can work wonders over time, but is it safe to use an antibiotic on your face forever?

Topical Clindamycin

Topical clindamycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that has two main actions; it can kill bacteria as well as stops them from reproducing. We know that twice daily application of 1% clindamycin has been shown to be as effective as 50mg twice daily oral minocycline when treating acne. It is effective against treating Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) which is an anaerobic, gram-positive bacterium. For topical application, it is available as a 1% solution, lotion, gel, or foam. This medication is most useful for treating painful and inflamed acne lesions. It has little effect on comedonal acne lesions (blackheads and whiteheads). Another plus is that topical clindamycin is usually considered safe to use during pregnancy.

Additionally, topical clindamycin tends to be well-tolerated after application. Sometimes local reactions could include dryness, peeling, redness, burning, and itching could occur. It is important to notify your provider if you experience these side effects. We avoid recommending topical clindamycin use in patients with ulcerative colitis or in patients with a history of antibiotic associated colitis or c. difficile associated diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems.

How Long Can It Be Used?

With all of these benefits in one topical medication, it would be wonderful to be able to use it as long as we need to, right? Well, not exactly. Like most topical acne medications, it takes several weeks for it to begin to show improvement, typically about four to six weeks. The best results occur when it is applied to the entire face with consistency in the time of application, which is typically once a day. As providers, we try to limit the use of topical clindamycin to between three and six months of use. But why is that?

Unfortunately, over time resistant bacteria start to occur on the skin that clindamycin is not effective at treating. Patients tend to notice that their topical clindamycin may not seem to work as well as it used to. This can happen as early as two months into use. In order to counter act this, we always recommend using some form of a benzoyl peroxide topical wash or leave on treatment. This is because benzoyl peroxide reduces the development of resistant organisms. Unless you are unable to tolerate benzoyl peroxide, it should always be recommended to use alongside topical clindamycin to keep it working for as long as possible. You can read more about this in some of  our previous blogs: or

Another alternative is for your clinician to prescribe a topical product that contains both clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide mixed together, of which, there are a few different formulations available. Once good control of the acne has been achieved, it is recommended to switch to other topical treatments that do not contain topical clindamycin for continued care or simply remove it from the regimen.

How Can the Derm NP Help?

Dermatological care isn’t available to everyone. For some, there isn’t a dermatologist within many miles of their home. For others, dermatological care simply isn’t affordable. The Derm NP is a unique dermatology practice that provides online dermatology consultations. Telehealth appointments are available for any non-urgent dermatological condition.

Our provider, Laura Collins, has an extensive background as both a dermatology provider and teacher. Her vast experience and enthusiasm for the dermatology field means that you are receiving expert care by a practitioner passionate about her work. Laura continuously seeks education about the newest, most cutting-edge treatment modalities available so she can help you look and feel your best!

Laura is also committed to providing affordable care for her patients. The Derm NP provides services for $37 per consultation with flexible scheduling. If a prescription is needed, it will be sent to the pharmacy of your choice. Contact us at (630)233-9767 or today to schedule an appointment for your dermatological concern. We’re here to help you be the best you possible. 

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8/5/2023 -8/13/2023

We will resume operations on 8/14/2023. If you have an urgent matter, you may contact us at

(630) 233-9767.