Duac once daily gel is a very popular acne treatment in the UK. Developed and marketed by Stiefel pharmaceutical company, this off off-white gel contains two active ingredients – an antibiotic clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide which belongs to a category of pharmaceutical compounds called keratolytics. A thin layer of the product is applied to the affected area only once per day, usually in the evening, and it is enough to produce the desired results and significantly decrease acne symptoms.

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Acne: General information

Acne is a very common yet non-contagious skin condition that manifests through appearance of spots on the skin, most commonly on the face, back or chest. While almost everybody will experience acne at least once in their life, this condition generally tends to decrease in intensity and frequency of flare-ups as the years go by, eventually disappearing completely after puberty. However, in those people who still experience acne issues in their adult years, the severity of the condition can significantly vary. Some people struggle with so called whiteheads and blackheads, very small and usually scarce dots, while others are affected by much more serious forms of the condition characterised by painful pustules and cysts which leave scars after disappearing.

According to the NHS, roughly 80% of people aged between 11 and 30 years have been affected at least once by this condition. Those with milder forms can improve their condition by simply introducing a twice-daily cleansing routine, while others might have to rely on prescription treatments in order to keep their condition under control.

Acne is a somewhat complex condition – on one hand, its root cause is increased activity of skin’s sebaceous glands that synthesise and release sebum, an oily substance that is naturally produced by the body in order to protect skin and hair. When there is an excess of this substance, different types of bacteria will find their way into the skin where they will feed of sebum. However, the inflammation marked by pustules and cysts is actually caused by inflammation of sebaceous glands as a result of bacterial waste materials (fatty acids).

Acne treatment and management

A common mistake people make when they notice acne is squeezing them or using a lot of cosmetics to try and cover them up. However, both of these practices are actually rather harmful – while covering acne up will only contribute to further bacterial infection, squeezing them will leave permanent scars which can be detrimental for self-esteem of an individual. In most cases, acne symptoms will improve and gradually disappear as the time goes by, but in some cases, the condition can continue manifesting well into adulthood.

Treatments of acne are very varied and there are numerous different approaches which will act differently in different people. Unlike some other options, Duac once daily gel is actually a topically applied antibiotic. Duac relies on its two active ingredients, clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide in order to achieve its goal. So while the antibiotic component, clindamycin is killing off the bacteria that feed on sebum, a substance produced by skin’s sebaceous glands, while benzoyl peroxide, a keratolytic by classification, will encourage the top layer of skin to shed, thus reducing the number of spots visible and preventing their re-emergence.

How is Duac gel used?

In order to ensure the best possible results while at the same time minimizing the risk of unwanted side effects, it is highly advisable to carefully follow the instructions provided by your prescribed. If you are unsure about any aspect of the treatment, consult with your doctor or refer to the official patient information leaflet that is issued within every pack of the gel.

The most general guidelines can be described as follows:

  • Use once daily, usually in the evening
  • Remove all traces of make-up prior to application
  • Wash the affected are thoroughly and pat dry
  • Use your fingertips to gently rub a thin layer of gel onto the affected area (do not limit application to single spots)
  • One fingertip’s worth of gel should be enough to cover the face
  • Wash your hands after each use
  • If you notice excessive skin dryness or peeling consult your doctor about how to proceed – usually an oil-free hypoallergenic and fragrance-free moisturiser will be recommended to combat this side effect

What are Duac gel side effects?

Some side effects have been documented when using Duac once daily gel. Despite the fact that they are not all that common, it is still important to get familiar with what could go wrong so that you can seek medical advice if you notice any of the unwanted adverse effects.

Diarrhoea, stomach pain, inflammation of the intestine and discolouration of the skin or hives has been reported in some cases, but clinical trials have yet to confirm the exact frequency of these side effects. As for other, better documented ones, they include:

Frequency of occurrence

Side effects

Very common (1 in 10 users or more) 

Redness, dryness, itching or peeling of the skin in the affected area

Common (1 in 10 users or less) 

Headache, burning at the application site, increased sensitivity to sunlight, rash

Uncommon (1 in 100 users)

Tingling or worsening of acne

Is Duac the right medicine for me? How safe is it?

As with all prescription medications, there are some instances in which Duac use might be contraindicated. This can be the case if you are using some additional treatment that might interact with Duac gel or if you are affected by some medical condition which can get exacerbated by Duac use.

When it comes to unwanted drug interactions, you should not be using Duac if you are also using:

  • Other skin antibiotics
  • Medicated cleaners
  • Products with large amounts of alcohol
  • Tretinoin
  • Isotretinoin
  • Tazarotene
  • Dapsone
  • Sulfacetamide
  • Erythromycin

To be completely sure, always disclose to your doctor all the relevant information regarding this topic.

There are also some medical condition that might make Duac use dangerous. These include:

  • Gut problems
  • Regional enteritis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Antibiotic-associated colitis