What OTC Treatments Can You Use for Skin Infections?


Quick Answer

Bacitracin, polymixin B, neomycin and antibiotic combinations of all three are available over the counter and treat localized skin infections, according to Healio. Bacitracin and polymixin B are inexpensive, while costs for the triple anitbiotic combination vary by brand. Neomycin can cause skin allergies in some people.

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Full Answer

The allergic reaction to neomycin increases with prolonged use, notes Healio. It is also active in combating many gram-negative pathogens, as is polymixin B. Bacitracin is active in combating many gram-positive pathogens. The combination of all three is excellent for the treatment of minor abrasions and some cases of impetigo in pediatric patients.

Impetigo causes severe skin irritation and comes in two forms: bulbous and nonbulbous, explains Healio. The less common bulbous type must be treated with systemic antibiotics. This is because bulbous impetigo is caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, which is best acted against by systemic antibiotics, such as dicloxacillin, cephalexin, cefuroxime and clindamycin.

Nonbulbous impetigo is caused by infection with the bacteria streptococcus pyogenes, staphylococcus aureus or both, notes Healio. If nonbulbous impetigo does not cover the mouth and is limited to a small area of the body, topical antibiotics are used for treatment. Oral antibiotics are used for extensive cases.

The triple antibiotic ointment combination of polymixin B, neomycin and bacitracin can be used on nonbulbous impetigo, explains Healio. Bactroban is often recommended as an alternative to the triple antibiotic ointment in treating nonbulous impetigo.

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