Clindamycin / tretinoin topical Side Effects

Some side effects of clindamycin / tretinoin topical may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

For the Consumer

Applies to clindamycin / tretinoin topical: topical application gel/jelly

Along with its needed effects, clindamycin / tretinoin topical 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 / tretinoin topical:

More common
  • Dryness and peeling of the skin
  • flushing or redness of the skin
  • itching
  • unusually warm skin
Less common
  • Burning or stinging at the site of application
  • changes in the color of the skin
  • fever
  • stomach cramps, tenderness, or pain
  • watery or bloody diarrhea

Some side effects of clindamycin / tretinoin topical 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:

Less common
  • Cough
  • dry skin
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • pain and tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  • shortness of breath or troubled breathing
  • sore throat
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • tightness of the chest or wheezing
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to clindamycin / tretinoin topical: topical gel


Local side effects including skin erythema, scaling, itching, burning, and stinging have been reported.


Respiratory side effects including nasopharyngitis, pharyngolaryngeal pain, cough, and sinusitis have been reported in greater than 1% of patients.


Dermatologic side effects including dry skin have been reported in greater than 1% of patients.


Other side effects have included one case of ringing in the ear and partial hearing loss believed to be caused by clindamycin.

A 14-year-old boy developed reproducible ringing in his right ear and hearing loss while using topical clindamycin and after discontinuing use. He underwent a complete physical exam and labs which failed to find a cause for his symptoms. The patient was restarted on benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin topical and the ringing in his ear increased. He was told to stop all medications and was started on methylprednisolone. The tinnitus decreased in 1 to 2 days with no improvement in the hearing deficit. After the third time he was restarted on benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin gel, the tinnitus returned at an increased level together with right-sided headaches within 1 to 2 days. The patient again stopped using the benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin gel and the tinnitus returned to a low level over 1 to 2 days. It is believed that the clindamycin component played a part in this patient's tinnitus and hearing loss.

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