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How Do I Choose the Best over-The-Counter Antibiotic Cream?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Selecting the best over-the-counter antibiotic cream often means choosing one that kills the most common types of bacteria that affect skin wounds. To this end, many health experts recommend a triple antibacterial cream for minor wounds. You can also consider the effects of a cream's inactive ingredients and whether they are likely to cause irritation or trigger allergy symptoms. Additionally, you may prefer a cream that includes a pain killer and has few side effects.

It is important to consider the inactive ingredients when you want to choose the best over-the-counter antibiotic cream. Some creams contain preservatives, fragrances, or colorings that can irritate your skin, even as they work to heal it. Before purchasing a cream, you may do well to research its ingredients and determine whether it is likely to cause a problem. This step can also prove important if you know you have allergies to certain substances. Researching a product can help you avoid rashes and itching caused by inadvertent contact with an ingredient to which you are allergic.

You may also do well to choose a broad-spectrum over-the-counter antibiotic cream. Such a cream is effective against a wide range of bacteria capable of causing infections. This is important because there are many different types of infections, and applying a product that prevents just one type of infection might leave you vulnerable to many others. Choosing one that contains more than one infection fighter may cover more of your bases.

Since there are so many different types of bacteria, you may consider using triple antibiotic cream a good option. This type of antibiotic cream contains three types of bacteria fighters: neomycin, bacitracin,and polymyxin B. Creams that include these three ingredients are said to fight some of the most common types of bacteria known to invade skin wounds.

Often, skin wounds are painful, and applying a cream to one may not seem a pleasant idea. For this reason, you might prefer an antibiotic cream that includes a pain killer, commonly referred to as an analgesic, when you want to make the best choice. For example, some over-the-counter antibiotic cream options include a substance called pramoxine. This medication can temporarily reduce the discomfort of a minor wound. Wounds that are more severe, however, may warrant a trip to a doctor and a more potent pain reliever.

Side effects can also factor into your choice of the best over-the-counter antibiotic cream. Most side effects of this type of cream are relatively minor and include such symptoms as itching or swelling in the area. Some products, however, are associated with serious but rare problems, including hearing loss. Choosing the best option usually means researching a cream's side effects and deciding which risks are worth taking.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon969208 — On Sep 08, 2014

Which antibiotic creams kill bacteria best?

By Grivusangel — On Feb 25, 2014

I prefer the antibiotic cream that numbs the area. That's what gives me relief from the pain from a cut or something similar.

These days, you can find the generic version of these creams at any discount store, much cheaper than the name brands.

Sometimes, a prescription ointment or cream is necessary, though, and if a doctor prescribes you an antibiotic cream, then go ahead and get your scrip filled and use what the doctor recommends.

But, for less serious injuries, most over the counter creams and/or ointments will do nicely, and you can get the generic brand and not spend nearly as much money.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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