Cleocin Side Effects

Generic Name: clindamycin

Note: This page contains information about the side effects of clindamycin. Some of the dosage forms included on this document may not apply to the brand name Cleocin.

Not all side effects for Cleocin may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

For the Consumer

Applies to clindamycin: capsule, powder for solution, solution

Along with its needed effects, clindamycin (the active ingredient contained in Cleocin) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking clindamycin:

More common

(the above side effects may also occur up to several weeks after you Stop taking clindamycin)

  • Abdominal or stomach cramps and pain (severe)
  • abdominal tenderness
  • diarrhea (watery and severe), which may also be bloody
  • fever
Less common
  • Sore throat and fever
  • skin rash, redness, and itching
  • unusual bleeding or bruising

Some side effects of clindamycin may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
  • Diarrhea (mild)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • stomach pain
Less common
  • Itching of rectal, or genital (sex organ) areas

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to clindamycin: compounding powder, injectable solution, intravenous solution, oral capsule, oral powder for reconstitution


The onset of pseudomembranous colitis symptoms may occur during or after antibacterial treatment. It appears as a pale plaque on direct visualization of the mucosa by endoscopy and is sensitive to oral vancomycin or metronidazole. Pseudomembranous colitis may be associated with toxic megacolon, which can be life-threatening.

Frequency not reported: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, esophagitis, diarrhea, Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea, pseudomembranous colitis, dry mouth, hairy tongue, upset stomach, gastrointestinal bleeding, mouth irritation


Rare (less than 0.1%): Erythema multiforme, anaphylactoid reactions, leukocytoclastic angiitis, toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome
Frequency not reported: Vesiculobullous rashes, urticaria, edema, generalized mild to moderate morbilliform-like (maculopapular) skin rashes, drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS syndrome)

Some cases of erythema multiforme resembled Stevens-Johnson syndrome.

Rare cases of leukocytoclastic angiitis, toxic epidermal necrolysis, erythema multiforme, and Stevens-Johnson syndrome associated with clindamycin hypersensitivity have been reported.


Rash was particularly common in AIDS patients.

A 47-year-old female patient with multiple comorbidities was diagnosed with Sweet's Syndrome. The patient's symptoms developed 2 days after initiating oral clindamycin (the active ingredient contained in Cleocin) therapy for a tooth infection. The patient's symptoms persisted despite tooth extraction and continuance of antibiotic treatment with intravenous, then oral, clindamycin. Following discontinuation of clindamycin, the patient's symptoms resolved over several days. Drug-induced Sweet's syndrome was determined based on the temporal relationship of the patient's symptoms, the beginning and end of clindamycin therapy, and the exclusion of other etiologies.

Three days after starting oral clindamycin for the persistence of symptoms following a root canal, a 34-year-old male patient reported "pimples" on his scalp which changed to pustules 24 hours later. The lesions progressed and the patient's antibiotic therapy was discontinued. Two days later, the rash improved considerably. The patient met the diagnostic criteria for drug-induced Sweet's syndrome and clindamycin was the most likely cause due to the timeline of antibiotic therapy and the patient's improvement following its discontinuation.

Rare (less than 0.1%): Exfoliative dermatitis, erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, drug-induced Sweet's syndrome (at least 2 cases)
Frequency not reported: Pruritus, maculopapular rash (generalized pruritic), vesiculobullous rash, urticaria, acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis


Rare (less than 0.1%): High degree heart block, hypotension, cardiopulmonary arrest

Rare cases of high degree heart block, hypotension, and cardiopulmonary arrest have been reported after clindamycin was administered intravenously over several minutes. In these cases, the affected patients subsequently tolerated slow infusions of clindamycin.


Frequency not reported: Transient neutropenia (leukopenia), transient eosinophilia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia, granulocytopenia

Neutropenia (ANC 945 cells/mm3) occurred in a 68-year-old male 6 days after receiving a single 600 mg oral dose of clindamycin. The neutrophil count normalized after 2 weeks.


Frequency not reported: Jaundice, abnormalities in liver function tests, cholestatic liver disease with ductopenia


Rare (less than 0.1%): Renal dysfunction (as shown by azotemia, oliguria, proteinuria)

Nervous system

Frequency not reported: Taste perversion/disorders (including bitter taste, taste loss, bad taste, taste alteration), parosmia


Frequency not reported: Vaginitis


Rare (less than 0.1%): Polyarthritis


Pain, induration, and sterile abscess have been reported after intramuscular administration and thrombophlebitis after intravenous infusion.

Frequency not reported: Pain, induration, sterile abscess, thrombophlebitis

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