Clindamycin

Clindamycin is a prescription medication used to treat a variety of infections. It belongs to a class of antibiotics called lincosamides.

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What is clindamycin used to treat?

Clindamycin is an antibiotic used to treat infections caused by bacteria. These include infections of the:

  • Bones and joints

  • Lungs

  • Blood

  • Pelvis

  • Abdomen 

You can take clindamycin to treat certain types of acne, and it can also be used after exposure to anthrax.

How do you take clindamycin?

Clindamycin is available to take orally as a tablet or liquid. There are also topical, intravaginal, and intravenous treatments.

Make sure you read the instructions carefully before taking this medication.

For oral administration, adults usually take 150–300mg¹ every six hours, but you may need a higher dose for a severe infection.

Children are usually prescribed 8–16mg/kg per day² taken orally, divided into three or four equal doses.

Take the tablet whole with plenty of water to avoid irritating your esophagus. Don’t lie down immediately after taking this medication, as this may irritate your esophagus and can delay the time it takes for the drug to reach your stomach.

Seeing results

Most people start to notice the medication working within the first 48 hours³.

If you don’t see any improvement after two weeks, speak to your doctor. They may decide to adjust your dose or try a different course of treatment.

Potential side effects of clindamycin

Clindamycin can cause side effects, including:

If you experience any of these side effects, contact your doctor. They may be able to prescribe a different medication.

Serious side effects

Taking clindamycin may also cause more serious side effects.

Some antibiotics like clindamycin cause Clostridium difficile (C.diff) bacteria to grow, which may lead to pseudomembranous colitis. Pseudomembranous colitis is a condition where the large intestine becomes infected with C.diff bacteria, causing inflammation and irritation.

Pseudomembranous colitis symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramps

  • Diarrhea

  • Fever

Other serious side effects of clindamycin include:

  • Urticaria (red, raised welts on the skin)

  • Severe skin reactions (like toxic epidermal necrolysis)

  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)

  • Dark urine

  • Lightheadedness or fainting

Some of these side effects may suggest you are having an allergic reaction to clindamycin, so seek emergency medical help.

Long-term use of clindamycin

Using clindamycin for a long time or repeatedly increases your risk of oral thrush or a vaginal yeast infection. Contact your doctor if you notice white patches in your mouth, a change in vaginal discharge, or any other new symptoms.

Missed doses

Take clindamycin as soon as possible if you forget to take a dose. If it’s nearly time for your next dose, don’t take two doses at once; simply continue with your normal regimen.

Overdoses

If you think you or someone else has taken too much clindamycin, get medical help straight away.

What to discuss with your doctor before taking clindamycin

Before taking clindamycin, tell your doctor about any prescription and nonprescription drugs, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you’re currently taking or plan to take.

Tell your doctor if you have an allergy to clindamycin, lincomycin (Lincocin), or any of the ingredients in clindamycin. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a list of ingredients if you’re unsure.

Your doctor should also be aware if you’re allergic to tartrazine, a yellow dye found in some medications.

Inform your doctor if you currently have or have previously had asthma, allergies, eczema (sensitive skin that is frequently itchy or irritated), colitis, or a kidney or liver condition.

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding. Your doctor will need to know right away if you become pregnant while taking clindamycin.

Inform your doctor or dentist that you are taking clindamycin if you are scheduled for surgery.

Stopping clindamycin

Stopping this medication before the course has finished may cause your infection to worsen. Don’t stop taking clindamycin before your prescription runs out or your doctor tells you to.

Clindamycin and pregnancy

Pregnant women should talk to their doctor before taking clindamycin.

Clindamycin is listed as a pregnancy category B drug by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means trials in animals suggest the drug may harm an unborn fetus, but not enough similar studies in pregnant women have been carried out.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant before taking the medication.

Clindamycin and breastfeeding

Women who are breastfeeding should also talk to their doctor before taking clindamycin. The drug passes into breast milk and could potentially cause side effects in a nursing baby, such as gastrointestinal problems.

Clindamycin given intravenously or via oral tablets may not be suitable, and your doctor may prescribe an alternative treatment.

Interactions with other drugs

Clindamycin may interact with other medications, causing serious side effects and complications.

Tell your doctor about any medications you take before starting clindamycin, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.

The following drugs can interact with clindamycin, so tell your doctor if you’re taking them:

  • Clarithromycin (Biaxin, in PrevPac)

  • Erythromycin (EES, E-Mycin, Erythrocin)

  • Indinavir (Crixivan)

  • Itraconazole (Sporanox)

  • Ketoconazole (Nizoral)

  • Nefazodone

  • Nelfinavir (Viracept)

  • Rifampin (Rifadin, Rifamate)

Clindamycin has neuromuscular blocking properties, so use it cautiously if you take any similar drugs.

You should not receive your BCG or cholera vaccine while taking clindamycin.

Other drugs may interact with clindamycin, so be sure to tell your doctor about any medications you are currently taking.

If they believe there’s a risk of interaction, your doctor may adjust your prescribed dose or closely monitor you for adverse effects.

Allergy information

Clindamycin may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to it. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Rash

  • Itching

  • Swelling

  • Dizziness

  • Trouble breathing

Stop taking this medication and seek medical help right away if you experience any of these symptoms.

Clinical trial history

Clindamycin has been studied⁴ as a treatment for skin and soft tissue infections (including diabetic foot and necrotizing fasciitis), head and neck infections, gynecological infections, abdominal infections, osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, pneumonia, preoperative prophylaxis, and other conditions.

A 2015 study⁵ assessed the efficacy of clindamycin versus trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim) for treating simple skin infections, including cellulitis and abscesses.

Of 524 participants (155 children and 369 adults), 264 were given clindamycin and 260 were given trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. Researchers found clindamycin was equally as effective as trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole and caused similar side effects.

Tips and advice for taking clindamycin

Here are some tips for taking clindamycin safely and effectively:

  • Take the medication exactly as prescribed. Don’t take less or more.

  • Don’t take two doses at once, even if you miss a dose.

  • Drink plenty of fluids while taking clindamycin, especially if you are taking the oral suspension.

  • If you develop diarrhea, drink plenty of fluids and contact your doctor.

  • Be sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking clindamycin.

  • Do not take any other medications without talking to your doctor first. These include over-the-counter medications and nutritional or herbal supplements.

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Disclaimer

Here at HealthMatch, we’ve done our best to ensure that the information provided in this article is helpful, up to date, and, most importantly, accurate.

However, we can’t replace the one-to-one advice of a qualified medical practitioner or outline all of the possible risks associated with this particular drug and your circumstances.

It is therefore important for you to note that the information contained in this article does not constitute professional medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or recommendation of treatment and is not intended to, nor should be used to, replace professional medical advice. This article may not always be up to date and is not exhaustive of all of the risks and considerations relevant to this particular drug. In no circumstances should this article be relied upon without independent consideration and confirmation by a qualified medical practitioner.

Your doctor will be able to explain all possible uses, dosages, precautions, interactions with other drugs, and other potential adverse effects, and you should always talk to them about any kind of medication you are taking, thinking about taking or wanting to stop taking.

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