Ziana (Clindamycin Phosphate 1.2% and Tretinoin…

Updated May 06, 2014.

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

Ziana is a combination of two medications — the antibiotic clindamycin and the topical retinoid tretinoin. It is used to treat mild to severe acne.

Ziana is used topically and comes in an alcohol-free, water-based gel. It’s only available with a prescription for those 12 and older.

How Ziana Works:

Clindamycin is an antibiotic commonly used to treat acne. Clindamycin reduces the amount of Propionibacteria acnes found on the skin. These bacteria are responsible for causing inflamed acne breakouts.

Tretinoin is better known by the name Retin-A. Tretinoin, a derivative of vitamin A, speeds up cell turnover rates. This keeps pores unclogged and loosens existing comedones.

Because of this, Ziana is effective against both inflammatory blemishes, such as pimples and papules, and non-inflammatory blackheads and whiteheads.

How Ziana Is Used:

Ziana is applied just once per day, after your nightly cleansing.

Only a pea-sized amount of the medication is needed per application. This doesn’t seem like much, but the gel spreads easily over the face. Don’t be tempted to use more. It won’t clear acne faster and can irritate your skin.

Possible Side Effects of Ziana:

Ziana may cause:

  • Skin irritation
  • Dryness
  • Redness
  • Peeling
  • Stinging or burning

Ziana may also cause a change in skin color (either a lightening or darkening of the skin). This is a rare and temporary side effect.

Don’t use Ziana if you have Crohn’s disease , ulcerative colitis , or if you have ever developed colitis with antibiotic use. Tell your doctor immediately if you develop severe diarrhea.

Let your doctor know if you’re pregnant. It’s not known how this medication may affect a developing fetus.

If you’re a nursing mom, let your doctor know. Ziana may pass into breast milk, so your doctor may advise you to wait until your baby is weaned before taking Ziana or suggest you use another medication.

Tips for Using Ziana:

  • Wear sunscreen every day (you’re doing this already, right? If not, now’s a great time to start). Ziana can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so no tanning or sunbathing either.
  • To help avoid overly dry skin, try to protect your skin from extreme cold, heat, and wind.
  • Don’t use scrubs, drying toners or cleansers, alcohol-based astringents or aftershave, or OTC acne products.
  • When applying your medication, keep it away from the eye area, lips and the corners of the nose. These places are sensitive and can become easily irritated.
  • Don’t use Ziana with erythromycin or medications containing erythromycin.


“Clindamycin Topical.” Medline Plus. National Institutes of Health. 01 Feb 2009. Accessed 29 Mar 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a609005.html

“Tretinoin Topical.” Medline Plus. National Institutes of Health. 01 Sep 2008. Accessed 29 Mar 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682437.html

Ziana Prescribing Information Sheet. Medicis.