The Guide to Clindamycin

This antibiotic fire hose puts out fiery breakouts

Some bacteria are good and necessary. But when an overgrowth of bacteria disrupts the natural balance in your skin's ecosystem, topical antibiotics like clindamycin can help put out the fire.

Clindamycin is a powerful antibiotic, perfect for battling Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), an acne-causing bacterium that camps out in your pores. Simply put, bacteria are a major cause of acne. Antibiotics kill bacteria.

• • •

Got a P. acnes problem?

P. acnes lives deep in your pores, feeding on oil (sebum) from your skin. It's harmless in small quantities, but if a pore is blocked or you have a lot of oil, P. acnes can spread like wildfire. The result? Inflammation and breakouts.

Clindamycin to the rescue

Clindamycin is like a fire hose aimed straight at P. acnes, putting out that fire. It stops these acne-causing bacteria from multiplying! It also has anti-inflammatory effects (like ibuprofen for a swollen knee), soothing irritation that can make acne worse.

In order to prevent acne from becoming antibiotic-resistant (yikes!), experts recommend using clindamycin as part of combination therapy. We've got you covered — that's why Curology formulas contain at least two antimicrobial ingredients.

Side effects

The most common side effects of topical clindamycin are dryness, oiliness, itching, and burning. Always contact your medical provider if you're worried about these (just start a chat if you use Curology), or if you get more extreme (although very rare) side effects like stomach pain or diarrhea.

Where can I get clindamycin?

Like other antibiotics in the U.S., clindamycin is available by prescription only. Don't want to bother with the trip to the derm? Chat with a dermatology expert online at — and get your prescription shipped directly to your door.

• • •

Learn more

Curious about other acne-busting ingredients? Check out our guides to azelaic acid, zinc pyrithione, and tretinoin. See you around!


Read more guides

Share the Knowledge

Your subscription includes

Custom superbottle with a powerful combination punch
Personal chats with a provider who sticks by you
90-day money-back guarantee
(just cover shipping)