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Erythromycin topical

Generic name: erythromycin topical [ ee-RITH-roe-MYE-sin ]
Brand names: Emcin Clear, Erygel, Theramycin Z, A/T/S, Erycette, ... show all 17 brands
Dosage forms: topical gel (2%), topical solution (2%), topical swab (2%)
Drug classes: Topical acne agents, Topical antibiotics

Medically reviewed by on Mar 25, 2024. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is erythromycin topical?

Erythromycin is an antibiotic that fights bacteria.

Erythromycin topical (for the skin) is used to treat acne vulgaris in adults.

Erythromycin topical may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Erythromycin topical side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Erythromycin topical may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

Common side effects of erythromycin topical may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Diarrhea may be a sign of a new infection. Call your doctor if you have diarrhea that is watery or has blood in it.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use erythromycin topical if you are allergic to it.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Erythromycin topical is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

How should I use erythromycin topical?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Do not take by mouth. Topical medicine is for use only on the skin.

Wash your hands before and after using erythromycin topical.

Clean and dry the skin area before you apply erythromycin topical. Spread the medicine on lightly, without rubbing it in.

Erythromycin topical is usually applied once or twice daily. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the tube or bottle tightly closed when not in use.

Erythromycin topical gel is flammable. Do not use near high heat or open flame. Do not smoke until the gel has completely dried on your skin.

Erythromycin topical dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Acne:

Gel: Apply a thin film to the affected area(s) once to 2 times a day

Pledgets/swabs, topical solution: Apply to the affected area(s) 2 times a day

-The affected area should be thoroughly washed and patted dry before application.
-Gel formulations should be spread over the skin, rather than rubbed in.
-Pledgets/swabs and topical solution may be used to treat acne on the back, chest, face, neck, and shoulders.
-Additional pledgets/swabs may be used, if needed; pledgets should be used once and discarded.
-Patients should be reassessed for continued use after 6 to 8 weeks; treatment should be discontinued if the condition worsens or if improvement is not observed after 6 to 8 weeks.

Use: Topical treatment of acne vulgaris

What happens if I miss a dose?

Apply the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not apply two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while using erythromycin topical?

Antibiotic medicines can cause diarrhea, which may be a sign of a new infection. If you have diarrhea that is watery or bloody, call your doctor before using anti-diarrhea medicine.

Avoid using other medications on the areas you treat with erythromycin topical unless your doctor tells you to.

Avoid using skin products that can cause irritation, such as harsh soaps or skin cleansers, or skin products with alcohol, spices, astringents, or lime.

Avoid getting this medication in your eyes, mouth, and nose. If it does get into any of these areas, rinse with water.

What other drugs will affect erythromycin topical?

Medicine used on the skin is not likely to be affected by other drugs you use. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.