Onexton Acne Treatment Medication

Onexton is a topical acne medication containing two active ingredients: clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide. Onexton is used to treat inflammatory acne. It’s also effective in treating comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads). Onexton can be used by both teens and adults. It’s a prescription treatment, so you can only get it from your healthcare provider.

Skin care routine.
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How Onexton Works

Onexton works by targeting acne in a few different ways. It acts as a keratolyticThat’s just a fancy way of saying it helps your epidermis, or the top layer of your skin, shed cells more effectively. 

As the dead skin cells slough away, it helps prevent your pores from becoming clogged. A clogged pore, also called a comedone, is the very beginning stage of a pimple or blackhead. By eliminating pores blockages you'll also eliminate blemishes.

Onexton is also an anti-bacterial. Since another factor in acne development is an over-abundance of acne-causing bacteria, keeping them in check helps to reduce breakouts.

Lastly, Onexton helps to reduce inflammation. While using this medication you’ll notice those angry red bumps aren’t quite as red and swollen.

How to Use Onexton

Onexton is applied once a day over your entire face. Before applying, you'll wash your face with a gentle cleanser and pat dry. Make sure your skin is completely dry before applying, since applying over damp skin can increase the chance of the medication causing skin irritation.

Just a pea-sized amount of the medication is enough for your entire face (and another pea-sized dab for the neck, if it's needed.) Keep well away from the eyes, lips, and nostrils, since these areas are especially sensitive.

It can take three months for Onexton (or any acne medication, for that matter) to really get going and create improvement of your skin. Expect that you’ll get new breakouts for a time, even while you're using your medication. This is frustrating, and you may feel like giving up on treatment. Stick with it, though, to give it plenty of time to work.  

Possible Side Effects of Onexton

Onexton can make your skin dry. Your skin may even peel and flake a bit. Moisturizer, when used daily, is a big help. Start using one as soon as you begin treatment and you may be able to stave off much of the annoying dryness.

A little bit of stinging or itching after the medication is applied is also fairly normal, and nothing to worry about. You may also notice your skin is red immediately after applying. Again, this isn't cause for concern so long as it's mild.   

But if you get a rash, your skin is swelling, or you’re otherwise having a major skin reaction, it’s time to stop using this medication. You’ll also want to give your dermatologist a call. 

Tell your healthcare provider if you get severe diarrhea while you’re using this medication. Don’t worry, this is very rare.

Let your dermatologist know if you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, or if you’ve developed colitis at any point while using antibiotics. This may preclude you from using Onexton.

This medication isn’t the first acne treatment choice for pregnant women or breastfeeding moms. We just don’t know how this medication may (or may not) affect a baby, in utero or while nursing.

More Clindamycin/Benzoyl Peroxide Medications

Onexton isn’t the only medication with the clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide combination. Some others include Benzaclin, Duac, and Acanya. The percentages of clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide differ in each medication, though. Depending on your situation, one or another may be a better fit for you.

Tips for Using Onexton

Wear sunscreen daily while using this medication. Onexton makes you more susceptible to sunburn and sun damage. This means no tanning beds, either. 

The benzoyl peroxide component in this medication can bleach out towels, your pillowcase and sheets, and your favorite PJs. To reduce the chance of staining, wash your hands after applying and make sure the medication is thoroughly dry before getting dressed or getting into bed. You’ll probably want to use white linens or items you won’t mind if they become stained when you have Onexton on your skin. 

Don’t use Onexton as a spot treatment. You have to put it over the entire face, even areas that don’t currently have breakouts.

Are you still using over-the-counter acne products? You may want to stop that while you’re using Onexton unless your doc gives the OK. 

A Word From Verywell

Your dermatologist will give you all the info you need on how to use this medication when it's prescribed. If you have questions about your acne treatment, don't be shy about asking.

Remember, Onexton isn’t the only acne medication out there. If it's not the right treatment choice for you, there are many others out there. Your dermatologist will help you decide which will work best for your skin.

3 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. Highlights Of Prescribing Information-Onexton. US Food & Drug Administration.

  2. LABEL: ONEXTON- clindamycin phosphate and benzoyl peroxide gel. DailyMed. US National Library of Medicine.

  3. Clindamycin and Benzoyl Peroxide Topical. US National Library of Medicine. March 2016.

Additional Reading
  • Cook-Bolden FE.  “Efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination of clindamycin phosphate (1.2%) and benzoyl peroxide (3.75%) aqueous gel in moderate or severe adolescent acne vulgaris.”  J Clin Aesthet Dermatol.  2015 May; 8(5):28-32.
  • Harper JC.  “The efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination clindamycin (1.2%) and benzoyl peroxide (3.75%) aqueous gel in patients with facial acne vulgaris: gender as a clinically relevant outcome variable.”  J Drugs Dermatol.  2015 Apr; 14(4):381-4.
  • Pariser DM, Rich P, Cook-Bolden FE, Korotzer A.  “An aqueous fel fixed combination of clindamycin phosphate 1.2% and benzoyl peroxide 3.75% for the once-daily treatment of moderate to severe acne vulgaris.”  J Drugs Dermatol.  2014 Sep; 13(9):1083-9.
  • Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America LLC.  “Onexton Gel Highlights of Prescribing Information.” [Package insert].  Bridgewater, NJ.  Nov 2014.
  • Zeichner JA.  “The efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination clindamycin (1.2%) and benzoyl peroxide (3.75%) aqueous gel in adult female patients with facial acne vulgaris.”  J Clin Aesthet Dermatol.  2015 Apr; 8(4):21-5.

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