Cold sores are an uncomfortable, unsightly problem that many people struggle with. As such, it’s no wonder that there are numerous treatments available for cold sores.

One of these treatments is Clindamycin, a type of antibiotic that is commonly used to treat bacterial infections. But can you use Clindamycin for cold sores? Let’s take a closer look at this treatment option and find out if it’s effective against cold sores. Let’s find out if you can use clindamycin for cold sores.

What is Clindamycin? 

Clindamycin is an antibiotic medication commonly used to treat bacterial infections, including skin infections such as acne and cellulitis. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria and thus helping to reduce the severity of the infection.

This makes it a popular choice for treating bacterial infections quickly and effectively.  

You can also check our article on How Can You Reduce Your Risk of Getting Cold Sores with COVID-19?

How Does Clindamycin Work on Cold Sores? 

Cold sores are caused by a virus, not bacteria—which means they cannot be treated with antibiotics like Clindamycin.

However, some doctors may still prescribe it in cases where a patient has both a bacterial infection and a cold sore at the same time. As Clindamycin can help reduce the severity of the bacterial infection while the body fights off the virus causing the cold sore.  

Potential Side Effects of Using Clindamycin for Cold Sores 

Although rare, there are some potential side effects associated with using Clindamycin for cold sores. These include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and headache.

In addition, using Clindamycin may cause an allergic reaction in some people—symptoms of which include hives or difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after taking Clindamycin for your cold sore(s), contact your doctor immediately!   

Should You Use Clindamycin for Cold Sores? 

In short, Clindamycin is not an effective treatment for cold sores. While it may help reduce the severity of a bacterial infection that has developed alongside a cold sore, it cannot cure the virus itself.

Therefore, you should speak to your doctor before taking this medication for cold sores, as there are more effective treatments available.  

Alternatives to Clindamycin for Cold Sores Treatment

Over-the-Counter Treatments

For mild to moderate cases of cold sores, there are several over-the-counter treatments that can help reduce the pain and discomfort associated with them.

Products containing benzalkonium chloride (BZK), such as mouthwashes and aerosol sprays, can help reduce inflammation and pain caused by cold sores.

Topical creams containing zinc oxide or menthol can also provide relief from itching and burning sensations associated with cold sores.

Additionally, products containing docosanol (Abreva) can help reduce the duration of a cold sore outbreak if used within 48 hours of noticing symptoms. 

Prescription Treatments

Prescription medications such as topical acyclovir or oral valacyclovir may also be prescribed by a physician to treat severe cases of cold sores that don’t respond to over-the-counter treatments.

These medications work by blocking the virus from replicating in cells and thus reducing the severity and duration of an outbreak. 

Home Remedies

In addition to pharmaceutical treatments, you may find some relief through home remedies such as applying ice directly on the sore or using a warm compress. Both will help reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief from pain and discomfort associated with cold sores. 

Herbal Remedies

There are a few herbs that have been found to be effective at treating cold sores when applied topically or taken orally in supplement form. Some popular choices include lemon balm extract, echinacea extract, licorice root extract, aloe vera gel, propolis tincture, chaparral tincture, bergamot essential oil, or chamomile essential oil. 

Natural Products

You may also try using natural products like honey or coconut oil on your affected areas for additional relief from itching or burning sensations due to their anti-inflammatory properties.

Additionally, products containing lysine and vitamin C may help reduce the duration of a cold sore outbreak if taken internally. 


In summary, although Clindamycin is not typically recommended as a treatment option for cold sores due to its inability to target viral infections like HSV-1 or HSV-2, some doctors may prescribe it in cases where both a bacterial infection and cold sore coexist together within one person. 

However, there are more effective over-the-counter, prescription, home remedy, and herbal treatments available that may be better suited for treating cold sores. Before beginning any treatment for your cold sores, always consult with your doctor to ensure that it is safe and effective for you.  I hope our article helped you understand how to use clindamycin for cold sores.

We hope in this article, we have cleared up your doubts about “Can you use Clindamycin for cold sores?” and provided you with a better understanding of available treatment options. Thank you for reading!