BenzaClin Gel Acne Treatment: Uses and Side Effects

BenzaClin is a topical anti-acne medication that gives you the power of two acne treatments in one: 5% benzoyl peroxide and the topical antibiotic clindamycin (1%). They are more effective in combination than benzoyl peroxide or clindamycin alone.

BenzaClin comes in gel form, and you usually apply it in the morning and at night. It treats mild to moderate acne. It is only available with a prescription from your healthcare provider.

Girl (12-13) applying moisturizer, Jersey City, New Jersey, USA
Jamie Grill / Getty Images

How BenzaClin Works

Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria are common residents of the skin. In those with acne, the P. acnes population grows unchecked, triggering acne breakouts. BenzaClin gel works by killing the bacteria that cause acne.

Benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin have each been shown to reduce P. acnes. And a reduction in P. acnes means a reduction in breakouts, especially inflamed breakouts.

Just like all acne medications, BenzaClin takes time to work. You may notice that your acne seems worse a few weeks after beginning treatment. This initial reaction is expected, so don't stop using your medication. Stick with treatment for eight to 12 weeks because it can take that long to notice an improvement.

BenzaClin Usage Directions

BenzaClin is applied twice daily, usually in the morning and before bed. Before application, wash with a gentle cleanser and allow the skin to dry thoroughly. Then, spread a small amount of the gel lightly and evenly over all affected areas.

Just a tiny bit goes a long way. The medication should seem to disappear into the skin. You're using too much medicine if you can see a film on the skin after application.

Take care to keep BenzaClin away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. It can irritate.

It should be noted that BenzaClin gel expires 12 weeks after purchase. You should throw out any unused medication after that time.

Benzaclin Side Effects

BenzaClin has many of the same side effects as other topical acne medications, which include:​

  • Dryness of the skin
  • Flaking and peeling
  • Skin redness, irritation, or rash
  • Itching

These side effects are usually mild to moderate, but occasionally they become more severe. If you're bothered by side effects, let your healthcare provider know right away.

Other BenzaClin gel side effects may include:

  • Severe stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood or mucus in stool
  • Fungal infection of the skin or nails

Although these side effects seem scary, they happen only very rarely. So most people can use BenzaClin without these problems. But Benzaclin shouldn't be used by people with regional or ulcerative colitis (Crohn's disease) or those who have a history of antibiotic-induced colitis.

Before you begin using BenzaClin, your healthcare provider should know about all topical and oral medications you are taking.

Also, be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant. The effect that BenzaClin may have on an unborn child hasn't really been studied, so you and your healthcare provider may decide on a different acne treatment if you are pregnant or become pregnant while using BenzaClin.

Also, BenzaClin has not been studied in nursing mothers; talk with your healthcare provider before using this medication if you are breastfeeding.

Tips for Use

Use a noncomedogenic sunscreen of at least SPF 30 every day because BenzaClin will make your skin more sensitive to the sun. You'll also want to steer clear of tanning beds and sun lamps.

BenzaClin will bleach fabrics. Wash your hands well after applying your medication. Don't let the medication come in contact with clothing, towels, pillowcases, etc., until it is completely dry. BenzaClin can also bleach your hair, so keep long hair pulled back and avoid applying too near the hairline.

Use a moisturizer every day to control dry, flaking skin. Pick one that is oil-free and noncomedogenic.

While using BenzaClin you should stay away from abrasive scrubs, drying cleansers or soaps, astringents, aftershave, exfoliating products, and medicated makeup. All of these products can exacerbate dryness and irritation of the skin.

Don't use any other topical acne treatments on the same areas you're applying BenzaClin unless your healthcare provider specifically tells you to do so. This includes over-the-counter anti-acne cleansers, lotions, or gels.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is BenzaClin a retinoid?

    BenzaClin is not a retinoid. Retinoids treat acne by exfoliating dead skin cells. Instead, BenzaClin is a topical antibiotic treatment that works by killing bacteria that cause acne.

  • Can I apply BenzaClin on my whole face?

    If your whole face is affected by acne, you can apply BezaClin to the entire face. However, avoid getting it in your eyes, nose, and mouth. Also avoid applying it close to your hairline, as it can bleach hair.

  • How long should I leave BenzaClin on my face?

    You apply BenzaClin to freshly washed and dried skin. It then absorbs into the skin. Therefore, you do not need to worry about rinsing or washing it off.

  • Does BenzaClin need to be refrigerated?

    You do not need to refrigerate BenzaClin gel. Instead, store it at room temperature, away from heat and moisture. Avoid storing BenzaClin in the kitchen or bathroom since these rooms tend to have heat and moisture fluctuations.

  • Does BenzaClin bleach skin?

    The benzoyl peroxide in BenzaClin can cause a bleaching effect on hair and fabric. However, it does not bleach the skin—that's a myth. You may be more sensitive to sunburn while using BenzaClin, so cover up and use sunscreen to avoid getting sunburned.

  • Does benzoyl peroxide remove dark spots?

    Benzoyl peroxide can help with dark spots, but not by bleaching. Instead, the medication kills the bacteria that causes acne, thereby eliminating the source of the dark spots.

8 Sources
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.
  1. Platsidaki E, Dessinioti C. Recent advances in understanding Propionibacterium acnes ( Cutibacterium acnes) in acneF1000Res. 2018;7:F1000 Faculty Rev-1953. doi:10.12688/f1000research.15659.1

  2. What is the Role of Benzoyl Peroxide Cleansers in Acne Management?: Do they Decrease Propionibacterium acnes Counts? Do they Reduce Acne Lesions?J Clin Aesthet Dermatol.

  3. BenzaClin Dosage.

  4. Benzaclin Side Effects.

  5. Benzaclin (Benzoyl Peroxide / Clindamycin Topical) Disease Interactions.

  6. BenzaClin.

  7. Food and Drug Administration. BenzaClin® Topical Gel.

  8. American Academy of Dermatology Association. 10 tips for clearing acne in darker skin tones.

Additional Reading

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