Clindamycin is an antibiotic. It works by stopping bacteria from growing.

Doctors prescribe clindamycin to treat bacterial infections, and the drug comes in oral, topical, and injectable forms.

Topical clindamycin is a common treatment for acne and bacterial infections in the vagina.

Doctors use clindamycin to treat infections in people with a penicillin allergy. Clindamycin is not suitable for everyone, and it can cause a range of serious side effects.

In this article, we describe the uses, forms, dosage, warnings, and side effects of clindamycin.

What is clindamycin
People use clindamycin to treat bacterial infections.

Clindamycin is an antibiotic drug. People use antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. Antibiotics, including clindamycin, do not work for infections caused by viruses.

Clindamycin is in the lincosamide family. These antibiotics work by .

Depending on the type of infection and the dosage of clindamycin, the drug can either kill or stop the growth of bacteria.

There are four forms of clindamycin: injectable, intravaginal, oral, and topical.

The following table lists forms of clindamycin, along with their dosages in milligrams (mg), milligrams per milliliter (mg/ml), or percentage.

InjectableIntravaginalOralTopical
Clindamycin phosphate injection 6 mg/mlCleocin cream 2%Clindamycin capsule 75 mgEvoclin foam 1%
Clindamycin phosphate injection 12 mg/mlCleocin suppository
100 mg
Clindamycin capsule 150 mgClindagel 1%
Clindamycin phosphate injection 18 mg/mlClindamycin capsule 300 mgCleocin T lotion
10 mg/ml
Clindamycin phosphate injection 150 mg/mlClindamycin palmitate hydrochloride granules 75 mg/5 mlClindamycin phosphate solution 1%

The form and dosage of clindamycin that a doctor prescribes will depend on the infection.

Oral capsules and granules

Because of the risk of colitis, doctors should only prescribe clindamycin if they suspect that a different antibiotic would be inappropriate.

Doctors should clindamycin to people who are allergic to penicillin or if they suspect that a different antibiotic would be inappropriate. This is because of the risk of colitis, which is inflammation of the colon's inner lining.

If possible, the doctor should take samples from the infection site to check which bacteria are causing the infection.

Clindamycin capsules may irritate the esophagus, the tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach. To avoid this irritation, take clindamycin capsules with a full glass of water.

The for adults are:

  • for serious infections, 150–300 mg every 6 hours
  • for more severe infections, 300–450 mg every 6 hours

The dosages for children who can swallow capsules are:

  • for serious infections, 8–16 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) per day, divided into three or four equal doses
  • for more severe infections, 16–20 mg/kg per day, divided into three or four equal doses

For people who have difficulty swallowing, clindamycin comes in that a person can dissolve in water.

Vaginal cream and suppositories

Topical clindamycin can treat bacterial infections in the vagina.

The cream comes with an applicator. Insert the amount of one applicator, which is around 100 mg of clindamycin, into the vagina once daily at bedtime for 3 or 7 consecutive nights.

is safe for pregnant women to use in the second and third trimesters. A pregnant woman requires 7 days of treatment.

Pregnant women should not use . Researchers have yet to confirm the safety of suppositories during pregnancy.

To use a suppository, insert one suppository pill, which is equivalent to 100 mg of clindamycin, into the vagina once daily at bedtime for three consecutive nights.

People with a history of colitis should not use clindamycin creams or suppositories.

Lotion, gel, and solution

Doctors prescribe clindamycin , , and to treat acne.

A person with acne can apply a thin layer of Cleocin T 1% lotion or clindamycin 1% solution to the affected area of skin twice a day.

A person can apply Clindagel 1% once daily to the affected area when acne appears.

Topical clindamycin can cause diarrhea. Anyone who has had colitis should avoid using this treatment.

Injections

If a person has a very serious infection and they cannot take other antibiotics, they may receive injectable clindamycin in the hospital.

The following table includes the in mg/kg per day and in mg per day.

Babies (less than 1 month old)Children and adolescents (ages 1 month to 16 years)People older than 16 years
15–20 mg/kg per day
in 3 or 4 equal doses
20–40 mg/kg per day
in 3 or 4 equal doses
600–1,200 mg/day
in 2, 3, or 4 equal doses
more severe infections:
1,200–2,700 mg/day
in 2, 3, or 4 equal doses
life-threatening infections:
up to 4,800 mg/day

Side effects

Diarrhea is the most common side effect when taking antibiotics.

One of the most common side effects of a majority of antibiotics is diarrhea. Sometimes people experience severe diarrhea when taking clindamycin.

Clindamycin can alter the bacterial composition of the colon and cause an overgrowth of the Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) bacterium. This bacterium produces toxins that can cause C. difficile associated diarrhea (CDAD).

CDAD is a severe and life-threatening infection. If a person develops CDAD while taking clindamycin, the doctor will immediately stop the antibiotic.

Other possible side effects of oral or injectable clindamycin include:

  • abdominal pain
  • irritation of the esophagus
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • allergic skin reactions
  • severe allergic reactions
  • inflammation of the vagina
  • fluid buildup under the skin
  • impeded liver function
  • impeded kidney function
  • blood disorders
  • disrupted function of the immune system
  • arthritis

People using clindamycin solution or lotion for acne may report skin-related side effects, including:

  • dryness
  • redness
  • a burning or stinging sensation
  • peeling
  • itchiness
  • oiliness

For example, when an individual uses Clindagel for acne, the most common side effects are itchiness and skin peeling.

People rarely experience diarrhea or colitis after using clindamycin topically. However, some people have reported .

Clindamycin suppositories and vaginal cream may cause the same side effects as the oral or injectable forms.

Rarely, a person may develop colitis from using a vaginal clindamycin product.

Other side effects of using clindamycin suppositories or vaginal cream include:

  • vaginal fungal infections
  • inflammation of the vagina and vulva
  • disorders of the vagina or vulva
  • vaginal pain