How Fast Does Clindamycin Work for UTI?

By Terez Malka, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
January 10, 2023

Key takeaways

  • Clindamycin is an antibiotic that treats bacterial infections by inhibiting bacterial replication.

  • Doctors often prescribe clindamycin for treating bacterial infections like skin, lung, and blood infections. However, it may not be the standard antibiotic treatment for urinary tract infections.

  • Just like other antibiotics, a user should not stop taking clindamycin unless they have serious side effects or their doctor advises so. This is to prevent antibiotic resistance.

Clindamycin is a generic medication with the brand name, Cleocin. It is an antibiotic used to treat severe bacterial infections, such as those affecting the skin, lungs, and blood. Clindamycin is not an over-the-counter medication. Because this medication is not designed to treat all types of bacterial infections, it should only be taken when recommended by a healthcare professional.

In this article, we will discuss all about clindamycin, how it works, and what it is used to treat. The article will also discuss the risk factors, precautions, and side effects of clindamycin. 

What is Clindamycin (Cleocin)?

Clindamycin is a lincosamide antibiotic. It is often used to treat certain bacterial infections, including skin and dental infections. In rare cases, it may be used to treat UTIs in those with allergies to more standard UTI treatment.  

Clindamycin is available as a generic and under the brand name Cleocin. It may be prescribed as a:

  • Capsule
  • Cream
  • Suppository
  • Liquid
  • Injection (in hospital settings only)

Adults and children may take clindamycin. Typical dosing includes:

  • Adults: 150-300 milligrams (mg) every six to eight hours. For severe infections, 300-450 mg every six hours.
  • Children: Dosage depends on the child’s weight, factored as 8-16 mg per kilogram (kg) of body weight, divided into 3-4 daily doses. For more severe infections, the dosage may be 16-20 mg per kg of body weight, taken in 3-4 equal doses.

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How Does Clindamycin (Cleocin) Work?

Clindamycin works by stopping bacterial replication. The antibiotic prevents bacteria from making proteins they use to grow their numbers. When they cannot reproduce, the bacterial infection cannot continue.

Antibiotics like clindamycin must be taken as directed. Complete the full prescription, even if you feel better. To prevent a recurrence of the infection, never stop taking antibiotics early unless your healthcare provider tells you to.

Can I Get Clindamycin (Cleocin) Online?

Yes, clindamycin is available from online pharmacies, but only with a prescription sent over by a healthcare provider.

How Much Does clindamycin (Cleocin) Cost?

The cost of clindamycin varies depending on your pharmacy, insurance coverage, copays, and other factors. The average cost of a 10-day supply of generic clindamycin is $15. A 10-day supply of Cleocin costs an average of $455. 

What Does Clindamycin (Cleocin) Treat?

Clindamycin treats serious bacterial infections. Clindamycin may be prescribed for infections involving:

  • Skin
  • Genitals and urinary tract
  • Lungs
  • Stomach
  • Blood
  • Bones (injection only)
  • Joints (injection only)

How Fast Does it Work for UTIs?

Clindamycin is not a standard antibiotic choice for UTIs. If you have allergies to other more common antibiotics, or a lab test shows that clindamycin is the best choice for your infection, your healthcare provider may recommend it in rare cases.  In these cases, you should see improvement within two days of starting treatment.

Do not stop taking clindamycin before you have completed your full course of treatment. Let your healthcare provider know if you are not seeing any improvement within two days or are feeling worse.

Is Clindamycin (Cleocin) Available Over the Counter?

Clindamycin and other antibiotics are not available over-the-counter. Because antibiotics treat bacterial infections, they are carefully managed by healthcare providers. When bacteria are exposed to antibiotics often, they can become resistant to them. This can make it harder to treat infections in the future.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious worldwide health issue. Never take antibiotics unless they have been prescribed for you. If you have antibiotics left after a course of treatment, discard them properly. Do not save them for later.

What Are the Side Effects?

Common side effects of clindamycin include:

Clindamycin can also cause serious side effects. If you notice these, seek emergency medical care right away. In some cases, side effects may not occur until you’ve stopped taking the medication.

  • Allergic reactions (hives, swelling, chest tightness, breathing problems)
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Blistering and peeling skin
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Severe bruising
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Bloody, black, or tarry stools

Clindamycin can cause severe diarrhea that can become a serious medical problem. This can occur up to two months after you’ve stopped taking the antibiotic. If you develop diarrhea that does not stop or is bloody, consult your healthcare provider immediately. Do not take medication to stop diarrhea until you have contacted your healthcare provider.

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Precautions and Risks of Clindamycin (Cleocin)

Certain people should not take clindamycin or should use extra caution while taking the medication. Tell your medical provider or pharmacist if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have kidney or liver disease
  • Have any allergies to foods or medication (including aspirin)
  • Have asthma
  • Have been diagnosed with any stomach or bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Have eczema
  • Are allergic to yellow food dye

Important precautions:

  • If you are being treated with clindamycin suppositories, do not have sexual contact while you are taking this medication.
  • Clindamycin can weaken latex or rubber condoms, or diaphragms. Do not use these methods as birth control for three days after stopping suppositories or for five days after stopping the cream.
  • Antibiotics can interfere with the effectiveness of oral birth control.
  • Discard clindamycin prescriptions after two weeks.

Clindamycin can interact with many other medications, including erythromycin and other antibiotics. Tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about any other medications that you take, including:

  • Prescription medications
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Dietary supplements
  • Multivitamins
  • Herbal products

How K Health Can Help

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K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Terez Malka, MD

Dr. Terez Malka is a board-certified pediatrician and emergency medicine physician.

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