The simple answer is “yes”. Are you thinking about regular Neosporin triple antibiotic ointment? If you are, you can put it on your lips if necessary. Neosporin contains the antibiotics bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin. It is used to prevent infections in small cuts, scrapes or burns so if you have a lip wound or cracks that bleed, it may be helpful. However, if you’re just using it for moisturizing purposes, you would be better off using a different product.
If you like the Neosporin brand, there’s actually a product made specifically for lips. Neosporin Lip Health Overnight Renewal Therapy is a white petrolatum product containing antioxidants, vitamins and moisturizers. It does not contain unnecessary antibiotics.
Neosporin vs Lip Balm
Now let’s get into why some people use the Neosporin antibiotic on their lips and why you need to think before you use it. Antibiotics or anti-bacterials are a key aspect of treatment for a range of conditions and illnesses. They are a type of antimicrobial drug used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections. Neosporin is a popular treatment for minor wounds and it can be found in the medicine cabinet in many homes. It prevents and treats many kinds of bacteria and is easily available over the counter. Many people therefore have it lying around.
A quick Google search will show several people claiming Neosporin helps to heal their chapped lips more quickly than Vaseline. It is often recommended for this use because small cuts and fissures in the lips can harbor bacteria and lead to infection. Neosporin not only contains antibiotics, but it has a petroleum base which helps to retain moisture in the lips.
On the other hand, that Google search will also show you many people reporting swelling or a stinging or burning on their lips after applying Neosporin. This is because many people are allergic to neomycin which is one of the antibiotics in the ointment. Neosporin is actually a common cause of contact dermatitis in which the outer layers of the skin become inflamed, red, dry and scaly. This is why many people seek alternatives even for cuts and scrapes.
Not for long term use
It should also be noted that Neosporin should not be used for more than a week. If your wound does not get better within seven days, you should stop using the product. speak to your doctor since you may need a stronger medication. If your lips are mildly dry from dehydration or cold weather, there is no need to use regular Neosporin. Opt for their dedicated lip product or another brand of lip balm.
There’s another reason why you should reconsider using a triple anti-biotic product on your lips if you are not at risk of infection. While antibiotic ointments are generally safe and helpful for minor wounds, you should not overuse them. Using antibiotics (even topical ones) when you don’t need them or for longer than you need them can cause bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant. This makes treatment difficult and you don’t want that. You should avoid the use of unnecessary antibiotics wherever possible.
There are several Neosporin triple antibiotic ointment alternatives. Vitamin E oil, Carmex, hydrocortisone ointments and other topical treatments, as well as Vitamin B, can all help to relieve the discomfort associated with chronically chapped lips.
So, can you use Neosporin on lips? You can but only if necessary and for as long as is necessary. Give petroleum or beeswax-based products a try instead. See your doctor if your lips get chapped routinely or they take longer to heal. You may have a condition which requires something stronger than over-the-counter products.