How to use neosporin?


Do topical antibiotics improve wound healing?


The use of topical triple-antibiotic ointments significantly decreases infection rates in minor contaminated wounds compared with a petrolatum control. Plain petrolatum ointment is equivalent to triple-antibiotic ointments for sterile wounds as a post-procedure wound dressing (strength of recommendation : A, based on randomized controlled trials ).

Mupirocin cream is as effective as oral cephalexin in the treatment of secondarily infected minor wounds and, because of better tolerability, is the treatment of choice for the prevention and treatment of Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus pyogenes infections. Emerging resistance, including methicillin-resistant S aureus (MRSA), makes it prudent to check for clinical response in 24 to 48 hours. Major contaminated wounds requiring parenteral antibiotics do not appear to additionally benefit from topical antibiotics (SOR: A, based on RCTs).

Topical antibiotics may also aid in the healing of chronic wounds (SOR: B, based on a systematic review of low-quality RCTs), as does the application of honey (SOR: B, based on a systematic review of cohort studies).


It would be helpful to have objective criteria to properly classify skin wounds
Michael Mendoza, MD, MPH
Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago

These results are encouraging, but they do not fully account for variability in the diagnosis of skin wounds or in the practical use of topical agents. The evaluation of skin wounds is inherently subjective. In order to properly apply these findings to my practice, it would be helpful to have more objective diagnostic criteria to properly classify skin wounds.

Furthermore, how patients use topical agents varies considerably. Patients apply topical agents differently, due to individual preference or perhaps inconsistent recommendations from their physician. Used improperly, topical agents may not provide the same potential for clinical improvement.

Evidence summary

Topical antibiotics for prophylaxis

Numerous studies support the prophylactic application of topical antibiotics to wounds that are clean. Topical bacitracin zinc (Bacitracin), a triple ointment of neomycin sulfate, bacitracin zinc, and polymyxin B sulfate (Neosporin), and silver sulfadiazine (Silvadene) were compared with petrolatum as a control in a well-conducted RCT of 426 patients with uncomplicated wounds seen at a military community hospital. Wound infection rates were 17.6% (19/108) for petrolatum, 5.5% (6/109) for Bacitracin (number needed to treat =8), 4.5% (5/110) for Neosporin (NNT=8), and 12.1% (12/99) for Silvadene (NNT=18).1 Most (60%) of the infections were “stitch abscesses” and were treated with local care only. There was no difference in rates of more serious infections between groups. One patient (0.9%) developed a hypersensitivity reaction to Neosporin.

A clinical trial compared the efficacy of a cetrimide, bacitracin zinc, and polymyxin B sulfate gel (a combination not available in the US) with placebo and povidone-iodine cream in preventing infections in 177 minor wounds (cuts, grazes, scrapes, and scratches) among children. The antibiotic gel was found to be superior to placebo and equivalent to povidone-iodine, in that it reduced clinical infections from 12.5% to 1.6% (absolute risk reduction =0.109; 95% confidence interval , 0.011–0.207; NNT=11).2

A double-blind study of 59 patients found Neosporin superior to placebo ointment in the prevention of streptococcal pyoderma for children with minor wounds. Infection occurred in 47% of placebo-treated children compared with 15% treated with the triple-antibiotic ointment (NNT=32; P=.01).3

A small randomized prospective trial of 99 patients, who self-reported compliance with wound care and dressing changes, compared Neosporin with mupirocin (Bactroban) in preventing infections in uncomplicated soft tissue wounds. The study found no statistical difference in infection rates, and the authors recommend the more cost-effective Neosporin, as well as a larger trial to confirm the results.4

Another randomized controlled trial of 933 outpatients—with a total of 1249 wounds from sterile dermatologic surgeries—compared white petrolatum with bacitracin zinc ointment prophylaxis. The study found no statistically significant differences in post-procedure infection rates, though only 13 patients developed an infection (2% in petrolatum group vs. 0.9% in bacitracin zinc group; 95% CI for the difference, –0.4 to 2.7).5

Topical antibiotics for treatment

Topical antimicrobials are appealing for the treatment of secondarily infected wounds for the sake of convenience and because they may reduce the risk of adverse effects.

An open randomized trial with 48 volunteers compared the effects of Neosporin with several antiseptics (3% hydrogen peroxide, 1% povidone-iodine, 0.25% acetic acid, 0.5% sodium hydrochloride) and a wound protectant (Johnson & Johnson First Aid Cream without antimicrobial agent) on blister wounds (6 blisters per volunteer) intentionally contaminated with S aureus. Only Neosporin eliminated the infection after 2 applications (at 16 and 24 hours). Both the antibiotic ointment and the wound protectant led to faster wound healing by about 4 days compared with the antiseptics or no treatment.6

Another study with 2 parallel, identical RCTs of a total of 706 patients found mupirocin cream (Bactroban) to be equivalent to oral cephalexin in the treatment of secondarily infected minor wounds, such as small lacerations, abrasions, or sutured wounds. Clinical success (95.1% for mupirocin and 95.3% for cephalexin), bacteriologic success (96.9% for mupirocin and 98.9% for cephalexin), as well as the intention-to-treat success rate of 83% at follow-up were equivalent in the 2 groups.7

Neosporin Ointment

How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Polymyxin B sulfate – neomycin sulfate – bacitracin zinc contains a combination of antibiotics used to treat certain types of infections caused by bacteria. The topical ointment can be used to treat certain skin infections and to prevent infections in burns, minor cuts, and wounds. This preparation works by killing the bacteria that cause these infections.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each gram contains polymyxin B sulfate 5,000 IU (international units), bacitracin zinc 400 IU, and neomycin sulfate 5 mg, in a low melting point petrolatum base.

How should I use this medication?

After removing any debris, such as pus or crusts, from the affected area, apply a thin layer of the ointment 2 to 5 times daily over the affected area. You may cover the area with dressing or leave it exposed. Do not use the ointment in the eyes.

This medication should not be used for more than 7 days without medical supervision. If there is no improvement after 7 days of using this medication, call your doctor.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, apply it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use this medication if you:

  • are allergic to polymyxin B sulfate, neomycin sulfate, bacitracin zinc, or any ingredients of this medication
  • are allergic to medications belonging to the class of medications known as aminoglycosides (e.g., gentamicin)
  • have an external ear infection when there is a perforated eardrum
  • have eye infections (this medication is not for the eye)
  • have nerve deafness
  • may need this treatment for a long period of time or have a very large affected area, where a significant amount of medication may be absorbed into the body

Do not give this medication to children younger than 2 years of age.

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • itching, pain, skin rash, scaling, swelling, redness, or other signs of skin irritation not present before use of this medication

Although most of the side effects listed below don’t happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • blood in urine
  • difficulty with urination
  • loss of hearing
  • weakness, tingling, or numbness in hands or feet

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of a severe allergic reaction such as severe rash or hives; difficulty breathing; or swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue, or throat

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Absorption: Absorbing a large amount of this medication into the body can increase the risk of damage to the ears or kidneys due to neomycin. Your doctor will monitor your closely if you are using this medication for burns, large ulcers, and other extensive conditions where significant absorption of neomycin is possible.

Allergies: Some people with certain skin conditions like eczema, ulcers, or chronic swimmer’s ear may be more likely to develop an allergy to the ingredients of this medication. If your skin becomes scaly, red, swollen, or itchy, you should stop taking the medication and call your doctor as soon as possible.

Kidney function: People with decreased kidney function may need to use a lower dose. Your doctor will monitor you if you have decreased kidney function and are using this medication.

Overgrowth of organisms: Prolonged use of this medication may cause an overgrowth of types of organisms that this medication does not effectively kill. If the affected area worsens or does not improve, call your doctor as soon as possible.

Pregnancy: This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: This medication may pass into breast milk. This medication is not recommended for use while breast-feeding.

Children: For newborns and infants, absorption by immature skin may be increased. Very young children who use this medication may be at risk of increased blood levels and side effects. This medication is not recommended for children under 2 years of age.

Seniors: A decrease in dose may be necessary in seniors with decreased kidney function or a likelihood to absorb a significant amount of medication.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between this medication and any of the following:

  • aminoglycoside antibiotics (e.g., gentamicin, tobramycin)
  • neuromuscular blocking agents (e.g., pancuronium, rocuronium)

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

Can You Put Neosporin on Dogs? What to Know About Neosporin on Dogs

During a recent prolonged cold snap, I noticed a small spot of blood at the end of my dog’s face. Whether from rooting around and sniffing at normally pliable ground that had frozen over, or simply from chapping due to repeated exposure, Baby had a small cut on the top of her nose. Like any concerned dog owner, my first impulse was to retreat to my medicine cabinet for a tube of Neosporin. As I removed the top of the antibacterial ointment, I wondered, can you put Neosporin on dogs?

According to Google’s 2016 Year in Search, I was not alone in wondering. “Can you put Neosporin on dogs?” was the eighth-most-asked question about dogs that the search engine giant tallied throughout the year. The more research I did, I found a number of related queries, so I did the neighborly thing and researched all of them for Dogster! The major points we’ll touch on along the way:

  1. What is Neosporin? How does it work?
  2. Using Neosporin on dogs for wound care
  3. Is Neosporin safe for use on dogs’ eyes, ears or paws?
  4. Can you put Neosporin on dogs’ stitches or sutures?
  5. What happens if a dog licked or ingested Neosporin?
  6. Are there Neosporin alternatives for dogs?

First, what is Neosporin? How does it work?

Is Neosporin safe to use on an injured dog? Photography ©fotoedu | Thinkstock.

In its standard, regular-strength formula, Neosporin is the brand-name for a common over-the-counter triple antibiotic ointment. Why “triple” as a descriptor? Because it contains three antibiotic agents: Bacitracin, Neomycin and Polymyxin B. All three of these antibiotics are touted for their ability to prevent infection caused specifically by bacteria. Since it was first sold in the 1950s, the brand itself has become a byword where small injuries are concerned.

As a topical cream, Neosporin is meant to prevent minor cuts, scrapes and wounds on the skin from being exacerbated by bacterial infection. It is also supposed to speed healing in broken skin. Studies have shown that, as an antibacterial agent, there is actually very little difference in infection prevention or healing speed if an abrasion is cleaned immediately than when it is treated with Neosporin. It also has no effect on infections caused by other foreign agents, such as a fungus or a virus.

Using Neosporin on dogs for wound care

Like most over-the-counter medications, humans probably use Neosporin as a force of habit, and without any real necessity. Should this knowledge impact how we approach putting Neosporin on dogs on dogs? For dogs, this is the primary use: minor scrapes and abrasions, and only after you’ve cleaned it beforehand with either warm water or a very simple saline solution.

Unless you have your veterinarian’s approval, avoid extra-strength varieties or ones with added active ingredients for pain relief. If your dog has anything more intense or involved, like a major gash, open wound, a bite from a strange dog or any other forest creature, clean the wound and seek veterinary attention. Where small wound care in dogs is concerned, Neosporin is one of the human medications that is most-frequently recommended by veterinarians as safe for use on dogs. What about other scenarios? If you notice redness, itching, or broken skin in more troubling, hard to reach or delicate spots on your dog’s body, is Neosporin still safe to use?

Is Neosporin safe for dogs’ eyes, ears or paws?

For instance, what if you spot some green mucus gathering in the corner of your dog’s eye, the telling sign of an eye infection? Reach for plain saline solution and a cotton ball first, not the Neosporin. Many dog eye infections are caused by irritants that get trapped in the corner of the eye or under an eyelid. In dogs, medicated cream can be both an irritant and an allergen; using it can make your dog’s eyes worse. Do not use your topical antibiotic in or on your dog’s eyes unless you have your vet’s approval!

Ear infections in dogs are typically caused by environmental allergens — such as plant sensitivity or parasite bites — too much hair in a dog’s ear canal, or trapped water. You’ll have to treat the underlying cause before trying to tackle any secondary bruising or infection that develops as a result. How do you clean a dog’s ears? Dogster has excellent advice on how to clean your dogs’ ears, which doesn’t involve any complex human medication.

Made up of collagen, keratin and adipose, the paw pads on the bottom of a dog’s feet are not like the skin on the rest of their body. Like a dog’s ears, if there’s a wound or injury, you’ll need to figure out if it has an external cause, such as a splinter, before slathering on the salve. Since dog tongues will often be in contact with any problematic areas they can reach, even a thin coat of Neosporin will involve a multi-step process, including regular washing and bandaging.

Can you put Neosporin on a dog’s stitches or sutures?

As detailed above, the cream is for minor wounds, and is not meant for treating surgical sites. Neosporin is intended to prevent bacterial growth. If your dog has recently been spayed or neutered, or had a different kind of invasive surgery, antibacterial provisions are part of any such operation. The first and primary lines of defense are the stitches and sutures themselves. Should you notice any post-operative issues, consult your veterinarian, not your medicine cabinet.

Help! My dog ingested Neosporin!

Used as its meant to be, it is very unlikely that you’ll live through a disaster film plot when your dog starts licking the pea-sized drop you used. If applied in a place where a dog’s tongue can easily lick it, it’s also unlikely to do your dog any good. In its regular-strength formula, even if a dog should somehow manage to squeeze out and ingest an entire tube, the worst you’re likely to experience is temporary vomiting or diarrhea. If you’re very concerned, and have $50 on you, you should call the Pet Poison Helpline.

Are there alternatives to Neosporin for dogs?

Is Neosporin safe for dogs? For minor cuts, scrapes, and abrasions, and if it gives you peace of mind, yes. Vets and human doctors are just as likely to say it should be in every human or pet first aid kit, as to say neither you nor your dog should use it at all! The official Neosporin website explicitly states, “we can’t recommend using these products on animals.” Some human doctors don’t even recommend that we use it on ourselves as often as we do! In almost every canine instance where you’re tempted to grab your favorite triple antibiotic, you and your dog are just as well served by cleaning the wound and covering it with petroleum jelly!

Thumbnail: Photography ©monkeybusinessimages | Thinkstock.

Read more about dog health and care on

  • Let’s Talk Tick Paralysis in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
  • Heartworm in Dogs — Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention
  • Let’s Talk About Dog Nipples

Neosporin + Pain Relief Dual Action Topical Antibiotic Ointment, 1 OZ

  • .5-oz tube of Neosporin + Pain Relief Dual Action Antibiotic Ointment for first aid wound care
  • Topical antibiotic ointment provides 24-hour infection protection of minor cuts, scrapes and burns
  • This first aid ointment also helps soothe & reduce pain with no sting, for maximum-strength relief
  • Made with the infection-fighting antibiotic ingredients neomycin, bacitracin zinc, & polymyxin B
  • No-sting formula contains the topical analgesic pramoxine hydrochloride for external pain relief
  • First aid topical antibiotic and pain relief ointment from the #1 doctor recommended brand
  • To use, apply a small amount of the antibiotic ointment to the wound one to three times daily
  • For best results, clean the affected area, apply the skin ointment, then cover with a bandage

Neosporin + Pain Relief Dual Action Ointment provides 24-hour infection protection and helps soothe painful minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Formulated for first aid wound care, the antibiotic ointment contains bacitracin zinc, neomycin sulfate and polymyxin B sulfate to help fight infection for 24 hours. The first aid ointment is also formulated with pramoxine hydrochloride to help soothe and reduce pain from minor wounds for maximum-strength relief. From the #1 doctor-recommended brand, this antibiotic and pain relief ointment provides soothing infection protection without any sting. To treat minor wounds, simply apply a small amount of the topical skin ointment on the affected area one to three times daily and cover with a Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandage.


Neosporin is the brand name for an over-the-counter drug that contains the antibiotics bacitracin, neomycin, and polymixin B.

Neosporin Plus Pain Relief contains these three ingredients plus the pain reliever pramoxine.

Neosporin is available in cream or ointment form. It’s applied to a cut or burn to prevent a skin infection.

Several Neosporin products are on the market, but not all of them contain antibiotics.

For example, white petroleum is the active ingredientin Neosporin Lip Health Overnight Renewal Therapy. Neosporin for Eczema contains colloidal oatmeal.

Neosporin ointment and cream belong to group of drugs called topical antibiotics. They kill bacteria by keeping the germs from the protein they need to build cell walls.

First manufactured by Citron Pharma, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Neosporin as a prescription drug in 1971.

Citron Pharma first manufactured the drug. Today Johnson & Johnson owns the brand.

Neosporin for Acne

The bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes contribute to some cases of acne.

According to some anecdotal reports, Neosporin is a beneficial home remedy because it contains antibiotics that may kill P. acnes.

To date, studies of the benefits of Neosporin in treating acne have not been done.

Also, depending on the condition of your skin and its sensitivity, applying Neosporin may actually worsen breakouts.

That’s because the inactive ingredients in the product may irritate skin or clog pores.

Also, the antibiotics in Neosporin may not be effective againstthe strains of P. acnes that are contributing to acne in your particular situation.

Neosporin for Dogs and Cats

Whether Neosporin is safe to use on your pets remains a subject of debate.

Some experts state that Neosporin is a safe option to treat your pet’s minor cuts or scrapes for up to four days.

If the wounds haven’t improved in this time, take your pet to the vet.

Other experts warn against using Neosporin on pets, because dogs and cats like to lick or pick at the area the ointment or cream covers, and it may be harmful when swallowed.

Neosporin Warnings

Don’t take Neosporin if you’re allergic to Neosporin or any of the ingredients in the drug.

Ask your doctor about Neosporin if you have myasthenia gravis.

Do not apply the cream form to an open wound.

Neosporin and Pregnancy

Some Neosporin products may not be safe to use during pregnancy, and doctors do not know whether or not it’s safe for your unborn child.

In generally, doctors consider Neosporin safe to use while breastfeeding.

If you’re pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or breastfeeding talk to your doctor before using Neosporin.

Medication In Pregnancy

While some medications are considered safe in pregnancy, most medication effects in pregnancy are unknown. However, that does not mean these other medications cause problems or birth defects. This is because from an academic and ethical standpoint, studies cannot be done that might put a mother or her baby at risk. As a result, we ask that you pay attention to your medications while you are pregnant. This is especially important in the first trimester when fetal development is most important.

Let us know immediately of any prescription medications you are on while pregnant so we can discuss and weigh the risks and benefits of it with you. In some cases, the risk of not taking the medication may be worse than the risk associated with taking the medication. If you are put on a new medication outside of our office, tell the doctor you are pregnant.

Below is a list of medications that have no known harmful effects in pregnancy when taken appropriately.

Allergy: Benadryl

Cough and cold: Tylenol, Sudafed, Robitussin DM, Triaminic, Vicks, Halls

Constipation: Metamucil, Citrucil, Fibercon, Colace, Milk of Magnesia, Senekot

Diarrhea: Imodium (after first trimester)

Heartburn: Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, Zantac, Pepcid

Hemorrhoids: Preparation H, Anusol, Tucks, Witch hazel

Nausea and vomiting: Vitamin B6

Rash/Derm: Hydrocortisone cream, Benadryl cream

Yeast infection: Monistat

Vitamins: Prenatal vitamins, prescription or over the counter (General vitamins can have too much of some things) Omega fatty acid products (ex. Enfamil lipil) (Often included in prescription vitamins now)

Other: Neosporin, Bacitracin

We recommend NOT taking over the counter medications unless it is necessary. If you have questions about other medications or supplements/herbs, please ask. Remember, other medications are often used in pregnancy but only after a discussion about risks and benefits. No drug can be considered 100% safe to use during pregnancy.

Neosporin (topical)

Medically reviewed by on Sep 13, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

  • Overview
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  • Dosage
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What is Neosporin?

Neosporin are antibiotics that kill bacteria on your skin.

Neosporin (for the skin) is a combination medicine used as a first aid antibiotic to prevent infections in minor cuts, scrapes, or burns on your skin.

Neosporin may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to bacitracin, neomycin, or polymyxin B.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to take this medicine if you have other medical conditions, especially:

  • chronic ear infections; or

  • a ruptured (torn) eardrum.

It is not known whether Neosporin topical will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

It is not known whether bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B topical passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Neosporin should not be used on a child younger than 2 years old without medical advice.

How should I use Neosporin?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Before you apply this medication, wash the skin area with soap and water and then dry it thoroughly.

Do not apply the ointment over large skin areas. Do not use on a deep cut, an animal bite, or a serious burn. Contact your doctor for instructions on how to treat these more severe skin injuries.

This medication can be applied up to 3 times each day, or as directed on the medicine label. Cover the wound with a bandage if desired. Clean the wound and use a new bandage each time you apply the medicine.

Use the ointment for as many days as recommended on the label or by your doctor, even if your symptoms start getting better. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared.

Call your doctor if your symptoms do not improve after 7 days of treatment, or if they get worse while using Neosporin.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Throw away any ointment not used before the expiration date on the medicine label.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of Neosporin topical is not expected to be dangerous. Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if anyone has accidentally swallowed the medication.

What should I avoid while using Neosporin?

Do not take by mouth. Neosporin is for use only on your skin. Avoid getting this medicine in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If this does happen, rinse with water.

Avoid applying other creams, lotions, ointments, or other medicated skin products to the same areas you treat with Neosporin.

Neosporin side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

A rare but serious side effect of neomycin is hearing loss, which has occurred in people using other forms of neomycin. It is unlikely that you would absorb enough of this medicine through your skin to cause this effect. Call your doctor at once if you notice any changes in your hearing.

Call your doctor at once if you have severe redness or irritation, swelling, pus, oozing, or other signs of infection.

Common side effects may include:

  • mild itching or rash; or

  • minor skin irritation after using the medicine.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Neosporin?

It is not likely that other drugs you take orally or inject will have an effect on topically applied Neosporin. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.01.

Related questions

  • What is the difference between Polysporin and Neosporin?
  • Can you buy antibiotics over the counter?

Medical Disclaimer

More about Neosporin (bacitracin / neomycin / polymyxin b topical)

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  • Drug class: topical antibiotics

Consumer resources

Other brands: Triple Antibiotic, Curad Triple Antibiotic, Medi-Quik

Professional resources

  • Neosporin Ophthalmic
  • … +3 more

Related treatment guides

  • Bacterial Skin Infection

Say No to Neosporin

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Say “NO” to Neosporin for treating

lymphedema related infections.

Many of us think a well-equipped first aid kit should include Neosporin – and that Neosporin should be applied generously if an injury breaks the skin in an area affected by lymphedema. New evidence indicates that Neosporin may not be appropriate for everyone and using only a thin layer protects against infection and reduces the risk of becoming allergic.


Neosporin is a first-aid ointment available without a prescription that contains three antibiotic ingredients in a petroleum jelly base.

First aid ointment can be used to treat minor skin injuries. If you have deep cuts, puncture wounds, animal bites, serious burns, or injuries affecting large areas of skin, call your doctor or get emergency medical help. Neosporin may be recommended for home care after minor surgery but this is becoming less common.

Brand Names include: Medi-Quik, Mycitracin, Neosporin, and Triple Antibiotic.

Generic Names are: bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B (topical).

The active ingredients in Neosporin are three antibiotics that fight different types of infection: neomycin, polysporin, and bacitracin.


Any of the antibiotics in Neosporin can cause an allergic reaction. Neomycin allergy is the most common and it appears that more people are becoming sensitive to Neomycin.

Most allergic reactions affect only area treated with Neosporin (allergic contact dermatitis). More severe reactions with hives, difficulty breathing or swallowing, swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs, are rare and potentially dangerous, seek medical treatment immediately.

Allergic reactions can interfere with wound healing. Redness and discharge from an allergic reaction may be mistaken for signs of infection.

The first signs of an allergic reaction may be redness, skin pain, irritation, burning, swelling, itching, rash, or hives. The skin may weep or develop blisters. The onset of symptoms of neomycin allergy may be delayed up to a week from the first use.

Allergic reactions to ointments are more common in those who are over 70. Risk of neomycin allergy is greater in skin with poor circulation (due to lymphedema or stasis dermatitis).

If an area that should be healing is getting worse, despite diligent applications of Neosporin, there is a problem. Stop using Neosporin and check with your doctor if you have a minor skin injury and your symptoms do not go away within one week.


If you have an allergic reaction, contact your medical care provider. Frequently the problem will resolve quickly if Neosporin is discontinued.


  • YES! Neosporin is effective at speeding healing, reducing infection rates, and minimizing scarring, if you are not allergic. Apply a small amount to the injured skin; a thin layer is all that is needed.
  • NO! Not if you know you are allergic to Neosporin or related antibiotics (ask your doctor).

Risk of allergic reaction increases with repeated exposure. If you have used Neosporin many times you are more likely to develop an allergy.


Ask your medical care provider or pharmacist to recommend a replacement based on your drug sensitivities. Alternatives include:

  • If you are allergic to Neomycin: Bacitracin and Polymyxin combination (Duospore, Polysporin, or Double Antibiotic), or Bacitracin alone.
  • Non-antibiotic creams: white petrolatum, Aquaphor Healing Ointment, etc.
  • Medline Plus. Neomycin, Polymyxin, and Bacitracin Topical. Reviewed 2010-08-01.
  • Medscape Reference: Allergic Contact Dermatitis. Updated 2011-09-14.
  • Neosporin Topical on

© 2012. This information does not replace the advice of a qualified health care professional.

Got a question or comment? Post in the ‘How Lymphedema is Treated’ forum.
Category: How Lymphedema is Treated Updated: 2012-10-24

Can You Use Neosporin on Dogs?

Just like their owners, dogs are susceptible to minor injuries and are not immune to getting cuts, scrapes, or burns. But can you use Neosporin® on dogs? The answer isn’t completely straightforward. In some instances, applying the topical, antibiotic ointment can help heal your dog’s wound, but there are situations when it is not advisable or necessary to use it on your canine companion.

Since most people immediately reach for some type of ointment when an incident occurs, it’s not unusual that your first instinct might be to do the same for your dog. But before you go ahead and start applying Neosporin, there are a few things to take into consideration.

With abrasions (scrapes and scratches), you should first clean and flush the wound with soap and water, then rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Your veterinarian should see all puncture or penetrating wounds, including dog bites, as soon as possible.

Neosporin is comprised of three different antibiotics: bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B. Together, they work to kill bacteria on the skin and prevent topical infection. Dr. Rachel Barrack, a licensed veterinarian, certified in both veterinary acupuncture and Chinese herbology with Animal Acupuncture in New York City, points out that Neosporin has been formulated for people and is not necessarily safe for use on dogs.

“Bacitracin has been deemed safe for use on animals, as has polymyxin B. However, neomycin has been linked to loss of hearing,” she says. “This was primarily shown with intravenous use, but it is recommended that you do not administer neomycin topically to your dog without first consulting your vet.”

Because Neosporin is topical and applied directly onto the skin, there’s always a chance that your dog could have an allergic reaction. It’s a good idea to administer a small patch test first. The best way to do this is by picking a small area of skin and applying a tiny dab of Neosporin, then monitor the area to see if your dog develops a mild rash, redness, or hives.

“Typically, small amounts of Neosporin are not harmful,” says Dr. Danel Grimmett, a veterinarian with Sunset Veterinary Clinic in Oklahoma. By performing a patch test in advance, you’ll know for certain whether your dog can tolerate this antibacterial cream before he really needs it.

The advantage of using Neosporin is that it kills off any live, existing bacteria, and stops them from growing. When applied to the skin, it helps to create a physical barrier against bacteria to prevent them from entering the wound and offers protection against infection. But there are some instances in which applying it to your dog might do more harm than good.

If your dog’s wound is located in a spot that’s easily reachable, he might try licking the Neosporin off, which not only defeats the purpose but also might make your pup sick.

“The main concern regarding ingestion of Neosporin is the potential impact to the GI flora (normal gut bacteria), resulting in GI upset such as vomiting and diarrhea,” explains Dr. Grimmett. “A second potential cause of GI upset would be the lubricant base, which could also give them diarrhea, etc.”

You can try covering the area with a sterile dressing, but Dr. Grimmett points out that not all dogs tolerate bandaging, and the same desire to lick something off their skin will most likely prompt them to chew, as well. “A bandage can act as a tourniquet, reducing adequate blood flow to extremities, if not managed well,” he says. “Great care must be taken to prevent any constriction.”

Other instances when Neosporin would not be beneficial to your dog are if he is bleeding heavily, the wound is deep, or appears to be severe. In these circumstances, it’s important to call your veterinarian or nearest animal hospital immediately for assistance.

While using Neosporin to treat a minor injury to your dog may be fine at times, there are several products that are designed specifically for canines and completely safe, even if ingested.

Whatever type of injury your dog sustains, it’s important to first talk with your veterinarian before administering any new medications, especially if they’re made for humans. “Your veterinarian is better equipped to treat your dog’s potential infections than you are at home,” says Dr. Barrack.

Plenty of things might cause minor cuts and scrapes on your dog: Rooting through dense brush, stepping on a sharp stone, or getting whacked by the family cat, for example. When humans experience minor scrapes, we tend to use Neosporin to prevent infection. Neosporin is a brand-name antibiotic ointment that is found in almost every household, and it’s perfectly safe for humans. But is Neosporin safe for dogs?

When your dog has a minor wound on their body or face, you might think of reaching for that Neosporin tube and applying a bit to the wound site. It’s important to make a few considerations before you do, though. Remember: Neosporin is a product made for humans, not dogs.

Read on for a closer look at Neosporin and its components, and to find out the answer to the question: Is Neosporin safe to use on your pup?

The Components of Neosporin

Neosporin is made up of three different antibiotics: Bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B. These antibacterial agents work together to suppress the growth of harmful bacteria on the skin, preventing an infection from developing when we experience small cuts and scrapes. It also creates a physical barrier on the skin to prevent bacteria from entering the wound.

Those antibiotics do the exact same thing for your dog — kill off bacteria before they have a chance to grow and create a barrier to block much of the bacteria at the same time. But are the components of Neosporin safe for dogs?


Bacitracin has been cleared for use on animals — it’s a perfectly safe option for your pup. A 1989 study compared dogs who had been treated with the antibiotic after surgery to those who hadn’t received the antibiotic. Those dogs who received Bacitracin had far less infections and fewer positive bacteria cultures. So, this medication worked well for dogs.


Neomycin is also effective for treating infections in dogs, but it comes with possible side effects. Hearing loss has been linked to the antibiotic when it is used intravenously, ranging from muffled hearing to complete deafness. In all cases, those hearing changes were permanent in the dogs who experienced them.

Is your dog likely to experience hearing loss from a small dab of Neosporin being applied to their skin? No, that would be essentially impossible. But it’s still something that should give dog parents pause when using a medication made for humans on their canine companions.

Polymyxin B

Derived from the bacterium Bacillus polymyxa, Polymyxin B is generally considered a safe antibiotic choice for dogs. It’s included in Neosporin as a “back-up” drug, used on top of other antibiotics in case they aren’t effective.

Some kinds of Neosporin, as well as other brands of antibiotic ointments, contain a fourth ingredient: Pramoxine. It’s a topical painkiller that helps to slightly numb the wound site and prevent itchiness and irritation. Pramoxine is considered safe for dogs as well, and is often included in anti-itch sprays made for animals.

When to Use Neosporin on Dogs

So, the ingredients of Neosporin are generally considered safe for dogs. Does that mean you should apply Neosporin every time your dog experiences a minor cut or scrape?

A small amount of Neosporin applied to a very minor cut or scrape won’t be harmful. However, it’s not necessary to apply the ointment to every minor wound that your dog experiences. It probably won’t hurt your pup, and can help prevent infection and make your dog a little more comfortable, but it’s not required.

Keep in mind that many dogs will simply lick the Neosporin off of the wound site after you’ve applied it. So, applying the ointment may very well be a waste of time. Plus, you don’t want your dog ingesting large amounts of Neosporin — swallowing a small bit probably won’t cause any harm, but you don’t want to risk anything more.

It’s also important to realize that some dogs might have an allergic reaction to Neosporin or one of its active ingredients. If you plan on applying Neosporin to your dog’s skin in the future, it’s a good idea to dab a small bit on a test area first, then keep an eye on it to see if inflammation, redness, or a rash develops. If it does, you’ll know that your dog is allergic — stop use immediately.

What to Do When Your Dog Has a Small Scrape

What should you do when you notice a minor cut or scrape on your dog’s body? Follow these simple first-aid steps:

  • Wash the wound site gently with warm water to get rid of any debris.
  • Apply a pet-safe antiseptic solution like Chlorhexidine to the area to kill off bacteria. Take care not to get any in your dog’s eyes or mouth. Allow it to dry before moving on to the next step.
  • At this stage, you can apply a topical antibiotic like Neosporin if you want to. Again, your dog may promptly try to lick it off. Try to prevent this from happening for at least 10 or 15 minutes so the antibiotics have a chance to work.
  • Keep a close eye on your dog’s wound over the next few days to make sure it doesn’t get any worse. Don’t let your dog lick or chew at the site, which would prolong the healing process. If the wound gets worse, call your vet right away.

Remember: The above steps are only for very minor injuries like small cuts or scrapes, nothing more. And it’s always smart to play it safe and call your veterinarian if you’re considering applying Neosporin or any other over-the-counter topical antibiotic to your dog. That way, you know whether it’s safe or something to reconsider.

Small scrapes and cuts can usually be dealt with at home, perhaps with a quick call to the vet’s office to make sure your first-aid methods are sound. But what do you do when your dog experiences a more severe wound?

More Serious Wound Care

It’s a nightmare scenario for any dog parent: Their beloved canine companion limps back inside, bleeding heavily from a visible wound. What do you do when your dog suffers a more serious wound?

Examples of serious wounds include things like:

  • Any open wounds that are bleeding profusely
  • Puncture wounds
  • Deep wounds or cuts
  • Broken bones
  • Burns

The first step is to remain calm. It’s easier said than done, but becoming hysterical won’t help anyone, your pooch least of all.

If your dog is bleeding profusely, grab a towel and compress the wound area with it to help stop the blood flow. Next, call your veterinarian right away to let them know what the situation is and that you’re coming in for emergency treatment. Carefully load your dog in the car, doing your best to maintain compression on the wound, and drive your pooch to the vet’s office for help.

Is Neosporin Safe for Dogs or Not?

Neosporin is fine to use on your dog for very minor cuts and scrapes — it can help prevent bacterial infections and can keep your dog from scratching, licking, or biting at the wound site while it heals. Make sure he or she doesn’t lick off the ointment after you’ve applied it, and your pup should be fine.

Remember: It’s possible for your dog to be allergic to Neosporin or its ingredients. Neosporin is not appropriate to use on other types of skin problems, like hot spots, rashes, or skin infections. And at the end of the day, Neosporin is a product made for humans, not dogs — it’s not necessary to use on your canine friend at all.

If your dog suffers any kind of wound that is more serious than a small scrape or cut, contact your veterinarian for help. It’s always best to play it safe.

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