The tolerability profile of clindamycin 1%/benzoyl peroxide 5% gel vs. adapalene 0.1%/benzoyl peroxide 2.5% gel for facial acne: results of a randomized, single-blind, split-face study


Correspondence: P Gonzalez, MD, Buenos Aires Skin, Av. Córdoba 1184 9º piso, Cdad Autonoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina. E-mail:



Topical combination therapy, such as that with fixed-dose clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide (BPO) or adapalene/BPO, is the recommended first-line approach for the treatment of facial acne.


To compare the tolerability of clindamycin 1%/BPO 5% gel vs. adapalene 0.1% BPO 2.5% gel for the first 2 weeks of treatment in patients with facial acne.


Using a randomized, single-blind, split-face method, 48 patients with acne received both clindamycin/BPO and adapalene/BPO once daily for 2 weeks. The primary endpoint was investigator-assessed tolerability. Treatment efficacy, patient-assessed tolerability and satisfaction, and safety were also investigated.


Forty-five patients completed treatment. Investigator-rated scores for erythema, dryness, and peeling were significantly higher with adapalene/BPO than clindamycin/BPO. Patients rated clindamycin/BPO as significantly more tolerable than adapalene/BPO for redness, dryness, burning, itching, and scaling. Investigator Static Global Assessment scores and lesion counts improved with both products, with no significant difference between treatments. Patients' Global Change Assessment showed a statistically significant difference in favor of clindamycin/BPO at week 1, but not week 2. Overall, >80% of patients were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with treatment at week 2, but 63% of patients stated that they preferred clindamycin/BPO. Both products were well tolerated, with no serious adverse events (AEs), but a post hoc analysis indicated that treatment-related AEs, including irritation, dryness and erythema, were significantly less common with clindamycin/BPO.


Clindamycin/BPO had a better tolerability profile than adapalene/BPO during 2 weeks of split-face treatment. Treatment satisfaction was highest with clindamycin/BPO.