What Are the Differences Between Neosporin and Bacitracin?

Bacitracin is an antibiotic ointment that only contains bacitracin, while Neosporin contains a combination of antibiotics including bacitracin, neomycin and polymyxin, advises Drugs.com. Users of bacitracin rarely experience side effects, advises WebMD. Some side effects of Neosporin include skin irritation, burning or redness.

Other serious but rare side effects of Neosporin include hair bumps, a change in urination, and problems with balance and hearing, states WebMD.

In rare cases, individuals using bacitracin or Neosporin for extended periods of time may experience fungal or bacterial skin infections that may require further treatment from a doctor, states WebMD. Serious allergic reactions are also rare. Symptoms include a rash, facial swelling, difficulty breathing and dizziness. Both medications are designed for topical use and may cause harm if ingested. Individuals should consult a doctor if they notice any side effects.

Both medications are designed for minor skin wounds and stop or slow bacterial growth. The ointments should not be used on deep wounds, serious burns or animal bites without first consulting a doctor, states Drugs.com. In addition, these medications should not be used for longer than one week.

Individuals should wash and dry wounds before applying the bacitracin or Neosporin ointment, advises Drugs.com. A sterile bandage may be used to cover the wound, or it may be left open.