What You Should Know About Acanya Acne…

Updated December 29, 2014.

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

Acanya Basics:

Acanya Gel is a fairly new acne medication, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2008. Acanya is a combination of clindamycin phosphate 1.2% and benzoyl peroxide 2.5%.

This water-based, alcohol-free gel is used topically to treat acne vulgaris. It’s approved for people 12 and older, and can be used for mild to severe acne.

You can only get Acanya with a prescription from your doctor. There is no generic option available at this time.

How Acanya Works:

Acanya offers the best of both medications, reducing acne-causing bacteria on the skin and preventing blemishes from forming.

Acanya improves blackheads, whiteheads, and inflamed pimples. Studies have shown the combination of these two drugs works better than using either clindamycin or benzoyl peroxide alone.

More good news — Acanya Gel seems to work fast. Some people saw improvement in just two weeks, but the best results were seen after using the medication for a full 12 weeks.

Common Usage Directions:

Acanya Gel is used just once a day, over clean and dry skin.

The package insert recommends placing a small dab of the gel on six strategic areas of the face: nose, cheeks, chin, and two dabs across the forehead. Rub gently into the skin until the gel disappears. Make sure you apply it over the entire area, and not just on individual pimples.

Possible Side Effects of Acanya:

The most common side effects are:

  • redness
  • peeling
  • burning or stinging

These generally are at their worst during the initial few weeks of treatment, but slowly reduce as time goes on.

Pregnant or breastfeeding? Let your doctor know. Acanya is a Pregnancy Category C drug, and hasn’t been well-studied in pregnant women or breastfeeding moms.

If you have Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colitis, or if antibiotic use has ever caused severe diarrhea, Acanya isn’t an option for you. Also, tell your doctor if you develop diarrhea while using Acanya.

Make sure you wear your sunscreen! Acanya can cause photosensitivity.

Tips for Using Acanya:

  • The benzoyl peroxide in this medication will bleach out towels, clothing, and even your hair if it come in contact with it before it’s dry, so wash your hands after applying.
  • Steer clear of scrubs, astringent toners and aftershaves, and other drying products while you’re using Acanya.
  • Stop using OTC acne treatments while you’re on Acanya (unless your doctor specifically gives you the okay.) Using additional acne treatment products will over-dry and irritate your skin, and won’t clear your acne up any faster.
  • Be consistent. You’ll get the best results by using your medication regularly, without skipping treatments.
  • Don’t be shy! Let your doctor know if you have any questions or concerns.


Acanya Prescribing Information Sheet. CORIA Laboratories.

Thiboutot D, Zaenglein A, Weiss J, Webster G, Calvarese B, Chen D. “An aqueous gel fixed combination of clindamycin phosphate 1.2% and benzoyl peroxide 2.5% for the once-daily treatment of moderate to severe acne vulgaris: Assessment of efficacy and safety in 2813 patients.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology November 2008 (Vol. 59, Issue 5, Pages 792-800)