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Cleocin T Gel for Acne

By Lara Gaston ; Updated July 18, 2017

Millions of tiny holes called pores cover the skin. These pores, or follicles, contain oil glands called sebaceous glands, which make oil to keep your skin moisturized. The body sometimes makes too much oil inside these glands, and this excess can mix with skin cells and dirt on the skin to cause a sticky plug in the pore that we know as acne. Cleocin T gel, also known as clindamycin phosphate, is a prescription medication for acne used by adolescents and adults. This gel, which is applied to the affected skin once to twice daily, suppresses and prevents the growth of bacteria that can lead to acne.


Cleocin T gel is a topical antibiotic that kills bacteria and interferes with the way bacteria grow. This combination lessens the amount of bacteria in the sebaceous glands to block protein synthesis and unclog the gland, treating the acne.

Side Effects

Common reactions to Cleocin T gel include headaches, skin dryness or redness. Less common side effects include pharyngitis, stomach upset, diarrhea that is sometimes bloody, abdominal pain, constipation, inflammation or infection of the colon, rash, itching, skin irritation or swelling, or contact dermatitis. Cleocin T is not associated with any life-threatening side effects, but a doctor should be informed if a person shows any sign of reaction to the medicine.


Cleocin T gel is a pregnancy risk Category B medication, meaning it does not appear to cause major birth defects or other problems for a developing fetus, but it is not known whether the medication passes through breast milk. Although the FDA has labeled the gel probably safe for a pregnant woman to use, a doctor should know about any medications a person takes or if she is pregnant, breastfeeding or thinking about becoming pregnant while considering using this drug. People who are sensitive to this drug should not use it, as it may worsen side effects and possibly the acne it aims to treat. This medicine is filtered by the liver and may increase liver enzyme levels. Those with a history of ulcerative colitis, regional enteritis or antibiotic-related colitis should not take this medication.


When it comes to treating acne, less is more. Many over-the-counter products worsen skin dryness and cause more irritation. Use caution with products containing alcohol, such as aftershave, lotions, makeup, creams and other toiletries. Over-the-counter soaps or cleansers that are abrasive or "medicated" and products that contain peeling drugs such as salicylic acid, sulfur, tertinoin, benzoyl peroxide or resorcinol should also be used with caution. These medications are not in Cleocin T gel, but their combination through over-the-counter creams and cleansers can cause increased irritation to skin. Astringents, soaps containing astringents and medicated cosmetics and cover-ups could also potentially increase skin dryness.


Cleocin T gel can be combined with other prescription creams and antibiotics to treat acne, as directed. If a person uses multiple acne creams or products for skin care, a doctor will advise which medication to apply first. Typically, the skin should be washed with warm water and a gentle soap, then dried. The medicine should be applied about 30 minutes after washing or shaving the area. The affected area should be covered with a pea-sized amount of the medication. A person should not smoke while applying the gel to the skin.


It may take two to six weeks before improvements show while using Cleocin T gel. Initially, a person may notice fewer new acne lesions. The medicine should still be applied as directed, even if there are no signs of immediate improvement. If acne does not improve within six weeks, tell a doctor.

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