Can Clindamycin Effectively Treat Psoriasis?

Medically reviewed by Steven Kim, MD on January 15, 2016Written by Kimberly Holland on January 15, 2016

What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that causes a buildup of cells on the skin’s surface. Typically, skin cells rise to the surface and fall off naturally. For people with psoriasis, the production of skin cells is rapidly increased. Because these cells aren’t ready to fall off, the excess cells begin to build up on the skin.

This buildup causes scales or thick patches of skin. These scales may be red and inflamed. The scales may also have a white, scaly appearance. In some cases, these scales may dry out, crack, or bleed.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition. If you have psoriasis, you’ll deal with it in some way throughout your lifetime. The good news is that psoriasis, while not curable, is fairly common. That means you have many treatment options available to you to help ease symptoms and end the outbreaks when they occur.

What Is Clindamycin?

Clindamycin is an antibiotic medication. It’s used to treat a variety of bacterial infections. These include infections of the:

  • skin
  • internal organs
  • blood
  • lungs

The topical version of this medication is often prescribed to treat certain severe forms of acne including acne rosacea, as well as bacterial infections on the skin. In recent years, it has also gained traction as a possible treatment for psoriasis.

What Is the Efficacy?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved clindamycin in 1970. This medication was originally approved as a treatment for bacterial infections. Since then, the medication has grown in popularity. Drug manufacturers have created several versions of the drug. This gives patients options for using the medicine more effectively.

In 2010, the FDA approved a topical gel version of clindamycin called Veltin. This version was approved for the treatment of acne vulgaris. All forms of this medicine are widely accepted as safe. Many physicians use them to treat a variety of bacterial infections.

What Are the Side Effects?

The most common side effect related to the use of clindamycin is diarrhea. In some cases, this diarrhea may be severe. These can include dehydration and decreased urination. Call your doctor for guidance if you experience severe diarrhea or any other unusual symptoms while taking clindamycin.

Other side effects of clindamycin include:

  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • heartburn
  • pain when swallowing
  • joint pain
  • scaly, white patches in the mouth
  • vaginal discharge that’s thick and white
  • swelling, burning, or itching in the vagina

How Much Should I Take?

Your individual dosage depends on several factors. These factors include:

  • the condition being treated
  • the version of the medication you’re using
  • your weight
  • your age
  • the severity of the infection
  • your personal health history

Oral versions of this medication may be taken by mouth two to four times per day, depending on strength. Be sure to take each dose with a glass of water and food, if possible.

If you’re using the topical version, apply it directly to your skin two to four times per day. Be sure to wash your hands immediately after unless you’re treating an infection on your hands.

Follow your doctor’s instructions if they differ from these general dosage tips. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about your prescription and how to use it.

What Can Clindamycin Treat?

This medication is approved to treat bacterial infections, not viral ones. This means that it won’t treat the cold or flu. Misuse of antibiotics may lead to decreased effectiveness in your future.

Clindamycin and other antibiotics are rarely used to treat psoriasis. That’s because psoriasis isn’t believed to be the result of a bacterial infection.

Instead, doctors believe that the skin condition is the result of an overreaction by your body’s immune system. The immune system mistakes healthy skin cells as foreign, harmful substances, and it attacks. This causes the overproduction of skin cells and the buildup that is associated with psoriasis.

Still, some preliminary research suggests individuals with psoriasis may have a higher bacterial count. This is believed to be especially true of those with guttate and chronic plaque psoriatic subtypes. More research is needed before doctors can begin recommending antibiotics as a mainstream treatment options for psoriasis.

Today, some doctors prescribe this medication if they suspect a person’s psoriasis is made worse by bacterial infections. In other words, it’s not believed that a bacterial infection is responsible for psoriasis. Rather, some people with psoriasis may experience increased symptoms if they also have a bacterial infection.

What Are the Risks?

Women using certain birth control methods should consult their doctor before taking this medication. These methods include the pill, ring, and patch. Antibiotic medications, such as clindamycin, can decrease the effectiveness of these forms of birth control.

It’s also suggested that you abstain from any vaccines containing live bacteria. This can include vaccines for typhoid and the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine. These vaccines may not be effective if received while you’re using an antibiotic.

Don’t take more than one type of antibiotic without guidance from your doctor. These medications can interact and cause serious side effects and complications.

Certain medications should never be mixed because of the risk of serious complications. Be sure to tell your doctor and your pharmacist all of the medications you’re taking so that they can consult with you if they see any potential problems.

Speaking with Your Doctor

If you have psoriasis and you’re interested in using this medication to help reduce your symptoms, talk with your doctor. Antibiotics are only rarely prescribed to people for the purpose of treating psoriasis, but it may work for you if a bacterial infection is making your symptoms worse.

Many psoriasis treatments are available, so if you’re not finding success with what you’re using now, keep trying. Together, you and your doctor can find a treatment plan that helps ease your symptoms and reduce your outbreaks.

CMS Id: 97147