How Does Duac Treat Acne?

Updated May 17, 2014.

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See’s Medical Review Board.

Duac is a prescription medication containing 5% benzoyl peroxide and 1% clindamycin. It’s used to treat inflammatory acne.

The gel is water based, so it doesn’t feel greasy. It’s also alcohol-free, so it’s not as likely to sting when you apply it.

Similar Medications:

How Duac Works:

Duac is a combination of two medications often used to treat acne: clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide.

Benzoyl peroxide helps keep the pore clear of blockages while making it a less hospitable home for acne-causing bacteria.

Clindamycin, an antibiotic that in this case is used topically, works differently. It reduces the amount of bacteria found on the skin.

Working together, they tend to get a better result than benzoyl peroxide or topical clindamycin alone.

Common Usage Directions:

Generally, Duac is used once daily to freshly cleansed and dried skin.

The package insert recommends using a “fingertip” sized amount of gel for the entire face. Make sure you apply it over the entire face and not just on individual pimples. Duac will help keep new pimples from forming, but only if it’s applied over the entire area.

Duac doesn’t need to be refrigerated. For many people, this makes it much more convenient to use.

Possible Side Effects of Duac:

The side effects you’re most likely to see with Duac are:

  • Dry skin
  • Peeling or flaking
  • Redness or irritation
  • Burning

These usually aren’t too bothersome, but let your doctor know if they become severe.

More serious (but much less common) side effects include diarrhea, bloody stools, and stomach cramps. Tell your doctor if you have had colitis, especially caused by previous antibiotic use.

Duac is an FDA Pregnancy Category C drug, so let your doctor know if you are pregnant or are a nursing mom. If so, this might not be the best acne treatment choice for you.

Tips for Using Duac:

  • Keep Duac away from your lips, eye area, and nostrils. These areas can become quickly irritated by this medication.
  • The benzoyl peroxide in Duac can bleach hair, clothing, pillowcases, towels, etc. so don’t let it come in contact with these until fully dry and wash your hands well after use.
  • If you’re applying just before bed, you’ll probably want to use a white pillowcase. Other colors have a tendency to bleach out, even if the medication is fully dry before going to bed.
  • Don’t forget the SPF! Duac can cause photosensitivity.
  • Be patient. Duac won’t work overnight, or even over several nights. Expect to use it consistently for several weeks before really noticing an improvement in your skin.

More About Duac from Drugs A-Z


A. Langner, A. Chu, V. Goulden, M. Ambroziak. “A randomized, single-blind comparison of topical clindamycin + benzoyl peroxide and adapalene in the treatment of mild to moderate facial acne vulgaris.” British Journal of Dermatology 2008; 158(1):122–129.

Duac Topical Gel Prescribing Information. Stiefel Laboratories, Inc.;2004.

Lookingbill DP, Chalker DK, Lindholm JS, et al. Treatment of acne with a combination clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide gel compared with clindamycin gel, benzoyl peroxide gel and vehicle gel: Combined results of two double-blind investigations. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 1997; 37:590-595.