Bacitracin vs Neosporin?
May 5, 2005 1:46 PM   Subscribe

I have a small Staph infection on my arm. My family nurse-practitioner gave me some Cipro. I asked her if I should put some Neosporin (which I already have in my medicine cabinet) on it. She said that Neosporin promotes redness, and Bacitracin would be better. So I get home and look at my Neosporin tube, and in smaller print under the word Neosporin, it says "Bacitracin Zinc - Neomycin Sulfate - Polymyxin B Sulfate." So are Neosporin and Bacitracin brands the same thing? And where does she get that Neosporin promotes redness? I've never heard that.
posted by IndigoRain to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
It's just like it says on the label. Neosporin brand contains Bacitracin, Neomycin, and Polymyxin B. Bacitracin products contain just Bacitracin.

And I've never had redness problems with Neosporin.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:51 PM on May 5, 2005

Bacitracin is a topical antibiotic, good against gram-positives like Staph. Neomycin is a different topical antibiotic, good against gram-negatives like E. coli and Shigella and their kin. Polymyxin is a topical antifungal.

Since you have a staph infection, the nurse was rightly recommending the narrowest-spectrum antibiotic - though, it sounds like, for the wrong reason.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:56 PM on May 5, 2005 [2 favorites]

Or, more likely, a reason an average joe is likely to believe and follow, instead of further diluting the power of existing antibiotics.
posted by nmiell at 3:06 PM on May 5, 2005

Neosporin is a triple antibiotic, containing three different antibiotics -- bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin). It's a wide spectrum antibiotic, and it's what you use when you don't know what bacteria you're defending against.

It's probable that one of the other two antibiotics in the neosporin can encourage redness. (I know a couple of people who've had reactions to Neosporin, but they do fine with Bacitracin.) Since you know which bacteria is causing the infection, there's not much point in using unnecessary antibiotics, especially since using them could further stress the wound area. (cue rant about inappropriate/excessive use of antibiotics.)
posted by jlkr at 3:18 PM on May 5, 2005

Either will do for right now, but I do find Bacitracin works better with staph infections. I use Bacitracin spray with lidocaine to numb the pain a little.

And finish your Cipro. Staph is tough to kick, and will start cropping up in unpleasant places, like wherever clothing - particularly elastic - rubs against your skin. Use a Q-tip, or a bit of gauze or paper towel, to apply your topical antibiotic and wash your hands after anyway. If you're not covering the site, wash your sheets frequently. (Cover at night if you can, particularly if you're not sleeping alone.)
posted by Lyn Never at 6:17 PM on May 5, 2005

I know for a fact that Neosporin is a triple-antibiotic, and that I'm allergic to whatever the third antibiotic is! I buy double antibiotic, and I don't get the allergic redness and reactivity.
posted by abbyladybug at 9:16 PM on May 5, 2005

Or, more likely, a reason an average joe is likely to believe and follow, instead of further diluting the power of existing antibiotics.

Maybe. In my own practice, I don't lie to my patients in an attempt to preserve what I think might be their own ignorance. It seems like the wrong way to go about things. But I know that there are practitioners out there who do it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:48 AM on May 7, 2005

Thank you everyone for your help!
posted by IndigoRain at 12:08 PM on May 11, 2005

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