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Sometimes clindamycin will not be right for every patient or situation. In these cases, clindamycin alternatives include the following options.

Clindamycin Alternatives

What are your options when it comes to alternatives for clindamycin?

For Acne

Both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are effective medications that can treat acne. Better yet, both are available in over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription products. Salicylic acid may reduce acne by helping to shed the outer, older layer of dead skin cells. Benzoyl peroxide is considered the most effective acne-fighting medication available without a prescription. Both medications are desirable alternatives for people with acne who cannot or do not need to take antibiotics for any other reason.

There are other antibiotics and other medications available for acne.

For Tooth Infection

Amoxicillin is the first line of defense against tooth infections. Some research shows that it’s more effective at preventing bacterial infections prior to undergoing dental surgeries. Amoxicillin may therefore be better for some people who have hypersensitivities to clindamycin.

Over the Counter 

The FDA recently cleared Differin 0.1% gel for OTC availability as an alternative acne treatment. Differin may therefore be a great option for someone who wants a cheaper medication, as it is far less expensive than clindamycin. Plus, it’s more convenient to buy because it’s OTC. 

For Dogs and Cats

Clindamycin is approved for use in dogs and cats suffering from bacterial infections caused by events like bite wounds, toxoplasmosis, pyoderma, abscesses, and bone and dental infections. It’s not indicated in cats and dogs with allergies to clindamycin and should be used with caution in pets with liver and kidney damage.

If clindamycin is not appropriate for a dog or cat (based on the pet’s health status and type, severity, and location of infection), many other antibiotics may be appropriate. These options include penicillin, cephalexin, and doxycycline. 

For Penicillin Allergy

Penicillins include amoxicillin, nafcillin, ticarcillin, and penicillin G and penicillin V. Some people with penicillin allergies are also allergic to a class of drugs called cephalosporins, which include cephalexin (Keflex). If you can’t take penicillins or cephalosporins due to allergies, your doctor may recommend a wide number of other drugs that can be effective for fighting mild, moderate, and severe infections. These options include glycopeptides, such as vancomycin.

For Tonsillectomy

The antibiotic erythromycin is an effective drug for chronic tonsillitis as well as for after a tonsillectomy in order to treat post-operative infections. 


Trimethoprim / sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim) is a popular drug that can treat many kinds of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Cephalexin (Keflex) and ceftriaxone (Rocephin) are also popular alternatives. According to Mayo Clinic, a more severe or complicated UTI may require medications such as fluoroquinolone.

For BV

Metronidazole (Flagyl) is a popular treatment for bacterial vaginosis (BV), or overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. Patients can take it as a pill or as a gel that is inserted into the vagina. Experts consider it a well-tolerated drug overall, so it may cause less side effects in some people compared to clindamycin. 

→ Best Probiotics for Bacterial Vaginosis

For Skin

Doxycycline is an antibiotic that can treat or manage many types of infections, including those affecting the skin. Some people may prefer doxycycline over clindamycin because it only has to be taken once or twice per day, compared to three to four times per day with clindamycin. Doxycycline does interact with many medications, though, so it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking this drug.

For Strep

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), penicillin or amoxicillin are generally the first medications prescribed for strep throat. Experts consider them a good way to reduce symptoms and reduce the amount of time a person is sick.

For Ear Infections 

Clindamycin is effective for ear infections. But penicillins, including Augmentin (amoxicillin / clavulanic acid) and amoxicillin, may be more appropriate, depending on the type of bacteria causing the infection. 

NOTE: Antibiotics are prescribed on a case by case basis and different antibiotics cover different bacteria. There may be multiple reasons why a physician selects one over the other.

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.

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