Mupirocin vs Neosporin


If you get a cut or scrape, one of the first things you will want to do is prevent the development of bacteria. You’ll probably treat minor injuries at home with antibiotic ointments. But which ones should you choose?

Two of the more popular options are mupirocin and Neosporin. While both treat bacteria, they vary in the types of bacteria they combat. Neosporin is particularly helpful in treating infections caused by gram-negative bacteria, while mupirocin is especially effective against gram-positive bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which often occurs in hospitals.

Let’s take a closer look at each and compare Mupirocin vs Neosporin:


Mupirocin is available under the brand names Centany and Bactroban but it can also be a generic drug. The ointment prevents infection and promote healing following cuts, burns and scrapes. It is only available by prescription and can kill more bacteria than many over-the-counter antibiotics. Hospital patients and some healthcare workers also use Mupirocin in the form of a nasal ointment to get rid of MRSA bacteria in their noses.

The affected area should be cleaned and dried before using Mupirocin ointment. A small amount should be applied up to three times per day or as directed by your medical professional. It is typically used for two weeks but improvement may start to show after four days.

Mupirocin side effects and precautions

As with most drugs, there are some possible side effects. These include ulcers or sores in the mouth; stinging, itching or redness on the site of application and nausea. Some people may also experience hives, cracked and dry skin and tenderness. Medical professionals do not recommend Mupirocin for children under 3 months of age. You should avoid getting the antibiotic into your nose, eyes, or mouth but if this does occur, you need to wash these areas with cool tap water.

Pregnant women or women who plan to get pregnant should talk to their doctors before using Mupirocin. The ointment should not be used by people with a history of kidney problems. This is because it contains polyethylene glycol which can into seep open wounds and is excreted by kidneys.


Neosporin is a triple antibiotic ointment which contains bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin in a petroleum jelly base. It is available without a doctor’s prescription and can be found pretty much anywhere that sells first aid supplies. Neosporin can fight a wide variety of infections. You should only apply Neosporin to wounds which have been cleaned with water. It can be applied up to five times per day.

In addition to the skin ointment, Neosporin is also available as ear and eye drops and an ophthalmic ointment which treats bacterial infection including conjunctivitis and keratitis.

Neosporin side effects and precautions

Many people are allergic to neomycin. The most common side effects are itching, pain, rash, swelling, and redness. Loss of hearing and stinging and burning inside the ear can occur but are rare.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should take to their healthcare providers before using Neosporin since not even scientific evidence exists regarding its impact on unborn babies and infants.  Do not use Neosporin if you are allergic to any of the three ingredients.

Things to keep in mind

Antibiotic ointments are generally considered safe and helpful for minor wounds. Do not use them on deep cuts or puncture wounds without first seeing a doctor. Avoid overusing antibiotics since there is global concern about increasingly antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Do not attempt to treat gaping cuts, wounds caused by bites and lacerations containing debris or dirt at home. Seek urgent care if any injury doesn’t improve within three to five days or seems to be getting worse.