Acanya Gel for Acne Treatment

1.2% Clindamycin and 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide

Acanya Gel is a prescription medication that contains two acne-fighting ingredients: benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin. It’s used to treat mild to moderate inflammatory breakouts, as well as severe acne. It also helps improve bumps and blackheads.

Acanya is a prescription medication, so you won’t find this on your drugstore shelf. It can be prescribed to adolescents age 12 or older and to adults with acne.

female hand with hand cream
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How Acanya Works

As a combination medication, Acanya offers the best of both ingredients. Studies have shown the combination of these two drugs works better than using either clindamycin or benzoyl peroxide alone, since it hits many different acne-causing factors at once.

You are probably familiar with clindamycin. It’s a common antibiotic. It kills breakout-causing bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes. Clindamycin also helps reduce inflammation.

Benzoyl peroxide isn’t an antibiotic, but it also works to kill bacteria and helps prevent antibiotic-resistance.

Acanya Gel comes premixed and ready to go, with just one pump. You’re paying for the convenience, though, because Acanya can be pricey. If budget is a concern, you may want to do a price comparison at a few different pharmacies.

How to Use Acanya

Before applying Acanya gel, wash your face gently with a mild soap, rinse with warm water, and pat your skin dry. The package insert recommends placing a small dab of the gel on six strategic areas of the face: nose, cheeks, chin, and two dabs across the forehead. Rub gently into the skin until the gel disappears. Make sure you apply it over the entire area, not just on individual pimples. Avoid the eyes, mouth, mucous membranes, and areas of broken skin. Wash your hands with soap and water after applying the gel. You’ll use this medication just once a day.

Possible Side Effects

You know it has to have some—all medications do. And the side effects are pretty typical of most topical acne medications: mild itching, burning, and dryness.

The side effects are usually worse during the first few weeks of treatment and peak by about the fourth week. The good news is that dryness and irritation slowly subside over time, and after about three months or so your skin will be back to where it was before you started treatment (but, most likely, with fewer breakouts). However, because of its relatively low percentage of benzoyl peroxide, you’ll get less drying than with higher-percentage benzoyl peroxide products.

Acanya can cause photosensitivity. Remember to wear your sunscreen, even when staying inside (indirect sunlight can still affect the skin).

You can’t use Acanya if you have Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or colitis, or if you’ve had severe diarrhea while using antibiotics. But topical retinoids and other clindamycin-free acne medications may be a good alternative for you.

Pregnant or breastfeeding? Acanya should be used with caution during pregnancy or if you are nursing, as it hasn't been well studied in pregnant women or breastfeeding moms. But there are other acne treatments that are safe to use while pregnant. Talk to your dermatologist about those options.

Other Medications That Contain Clindamycin and Benzoyl Peroxide

Acanya isn’t the only medication that uses a combination of clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide. BenzaClin, Duac, and Onexton do, too—although the percentages of each medication are different.


Benzoyl peroxide can bleach out towels, pillowcases, and your favorite PJs, so make sure to wash your hands well with soap after you apply it.

All those OTC acne treatments you’ve been using? Forgo them while you’re using Acanya (unless your healthcare provider specifically gives you the okay.) Using additional acne treatment products will over-dry and irritate your skin, and won’t clear your acne up any faster.

Be consistent. You'll get the best results by using your medication regularly, without skipping treatments. And give it several weeks to really start seeing good results.

Don't be shy: Let your healthcare provider know if you have any questions or concerns.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.