Topical Antibiotics


If you find topical retinoid treatments to be harder to manage and think that it takes too long for it to show results, then you can choose to treat your acne lesions with topical antibiotics. Topical antibiotics certainly work faster than retinoid preparations and with much less side effects. Knowing that topical antibiotics can make you look and feel better in a shorter period of time is incentive enough and can greatly motivate you to see the treatment through.

The two most frequently used topical antibiotics for the fast treatment and maintenance of acne are clindamycin and erythromycin. They can be used singly or can be combined with benzoyl peroxide. They also work well with oral antibiotics to fight inflammatory acne, whiteheads, blackheads, as well as other non-acne skin problems.



Topical antibiotics destroy P. acnes, the bacteria that promote acne growth, on the spot. Apart from their bacteria-stopping action, they also have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the swelling of acne pustules and papules. As they get rid of bacteria, they also have the capability to deter the development of blackheads and whiteheads or comedogenesis.

Topical antibiotics come in lotions, ointments, creams, solutions and gels. These various mediums provide the dermatologist more freedom to prescribe whatever suits your skin type and predisposition. Some topical antibiotic preparations are sold as plain generics while others have been marketed as higher-priced branded generics.



Benzoyl peroxide is the leading heavyweight in over-the-counter acne products. Combining clindamycin or erythromycin with benzoyl peroxide can provide certain advantages.

• As opposed to standalone topical antibiotics, combining benzoyl peroxide to the formulation keeps acne-causing bacteria from developing resistance to them.

• Combining clindamycin or erythromycin with benzoyl peroxide creates a synergistic effect which makes them work more efficiently together than if they were used alone.

• There is a combination pack called the Benzamycin Pak which comes in foil pouches which you can carry with you if you’re always on the move.



Wash your skin with mild soap and warm water, and pat dry before applying your acne medication.

Apply a thin layer of topical antibiotic on all affected areas of your skin. Within 4 to 6 weeks, you will notice a marked improvement in your skin texture as acne lesions begin to decrease in size. The treatment improves dramatically, however, when the topical antibiotic is used in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide.

P. acnes can develop resistant strains to topical antibiotics. Combining topical antibiotics with benzoyl peroxide can prevent resistance from developing.



You can experience some mild side effects while using these antibiotics. These can come in the form of skin irritation, scaling, swelling and redness. Some users reported itchiness and mild burning sensation. Most users, on the other hand, were able to tolerate the side effects with very little discomfort.

People with sensitive skins are advised to use clindamycin or erythromycin in an ointment base to prevent skin irritation caused by sensitivity to certain topical formulations.

Excessive dryness can be eased by applying a generous amount of moisturizer on the affected area in the morning. Apply the moisturizer over the topical medication to ensure that the antibiotics will penetrate the skin.