Clindamycin is an antibiotic, which is used to treat bacterial infections. Like all antibiotics, it will not work against viruses.
At Great Ormond Street Hospital it is usually prescribed for children with heart defects (both treated and untreated) to prevent a specific type of infection called endocarditis. For these children, clindamycin is given before certain procedures, for example, dental procedures. It is often prescribed for children who have an allergy to penicillin, which is the usual treatment.
How is clindamycin given?
Clindamycin syrup is usually prescribed under the brand name Dalacin C®. The strength of the syrup is 75mg/5ml, that is, every 5ml of the liquid contains a dose of 75mg. Clindamycin syrup is not available in the UK so has to be imported from abroad.
The medicine label will explain the exact dose and timing for your child.
- Wash your hands.
- Shake the medicine bottle before opening.
- Insert the bottle adapter into the open bottle if necessary.
- Draw up the required dose of medicine using an oral syringe as instructed.
- Put the tip of the oral syringe inside your child’s mouth.
- Gently push the plunger to squirt small amounts of medicine into the side of your child’s mouth.
- Allow your child to swallow before continuing to push the plunger.
- Give your child a drink to wash down the medicine.
- When you have given the whole dose, wash the syringe in warm, soapy water.
Who should not take clindamycin?
People with the following conditions should discuss taking clindamycin with their doctor:
- hypersensitivity to clindamycin or its ingredients
- bowel problems
- severe renal or liver function problems
- pregnant, could be pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding
What are the side effects of clindamycin?
Some people develop an allergic reaction to clindamycin, which may be mild or severe. Signs of a mild allergic reaction include skin rashes and itching, high temperature, shivering, redness of the face, a feeling of dizziness or a headache. If you see any of these signs, please report them to a doctor or nurse. Signs of a severe allergic reaction include any of the above, as well as shortness of breath or chest pain. If you are in hospital and your child shows signs of a severe allergic reaction, call a doctor or nurse immediately. If you are at home and your child shows signs of a severe allergic reaction, call an ambulance immediately. If your child has a severe reaction to clindamycin, the subsequent treatment will probably be changed.
Change in taste
This is quite common but is not usually serious. Your child might not feel like eating certain foods so you might have to try different ones. If you are worried, talk to your doctor.
Some people have had a serious skin reaction when taking clindamycin, although this is rare. If your child’s skin becomes sore, blisters or peels, seek medical help immediately.
Diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting
This is quite common with clindamycin. If your child has a mild upset stomach, increase the amount he or she is drinking to prevent dehydration but do not stop giving the medicine. If your child has severe diarrhoea or it contains blood or mucus, please talk to your doctor immediately. Another medicine may need to be prescribed instead of clindamycin.
Changes in liver function and/or blood cell count
This is unusual with short-term courses of treatment. If your child is taking clindamycin on a longer-term basis, his or her renal and liver function and blood counts will be checked regularly.
Clindamycin and other medicines
Some medicines can react with clindamycin, altering how well it works. It may affect how well the contraceptive pill works. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving your child any other medicines, including herbal or complementary medicines.
Important information about clindamycin
- Keep medicines in a safe place where children cannot reach them.
- Clindamycin syrup should be kept in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight or heat. It does not need to be kept in the fridge.
- If your doctor decides to stop treatment with clindamycin, return any unused or out of date syrup to the pharmacist. Do not flush it down the toilet or throw it away.
- If your child vomits after the dose, do not give them another dose.
- If you forget to give your child a dose and it is within a few hours of when the dose was due, give it as soon as you remember. Otherwise, do not give this dose but take the next dose when it is due. Do not give a double dose.
Please read this information sheet from GOSH alongside the patient information leaflet (PIL) provided by the manufacturer. If you do not have a copy of the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet please talk to your pharmacist. A few products do not have a marketing authorisation (licence) as a medicine and therefore there is no PIL.
For children in particular, there may be conflicts of information between the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet (PIL) and guidance provided by GOSH and other healthcare providers. For example, some manufacturers may recommend, in the patient information leaflet, that a medicine is not given to children aged under 12 years. In most cases, this is because the manufacturer will recruit adults to clinical trials in the first instance and therefore the initial marketing authorisation (licence) only covers adults and older children.
For new medicines, the manufacturer then has to recruit children and newborns into trials (unless the medicine is not going to be used in children and newborns) and subsequently amend the PIL with the approved information. Older medicines may have been used effectively for many years in children without problems but the manufacturer has not been required to collect data and amend the licence. This does not mean that it is unsafe for children and young people to be prescribed such a medicine ‘off-licence/off-label’. However, if you are concerned about any conflicts of information, please discuss with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.