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What is Bactroban® Cream?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Bactroban® Cream is also called mupirocin calcium, and it is generally available by prescription only. Its main use is to treat infections on the skin or to prevent them. The active agent of Bactroban® Cream is mupirocin, which has antibacterial properties and can be used to kill a number of harmful bacteria strains. In clinical tests this agent has shown effectiveness against several types of strep bacteria and methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This makes its use in hospitals common, especially as applied to surgical wounds, though it will obviously not prevent every MRSA case.

The other ingredients in Bactroban® Cream include some forms of alcohol, mineral oil and other chemicals that give the product a creamy and easy to apply feel. Generally, side effects of using this medication are low, but some people may develop rash or skin irritation. If this is the case, a person should contact their physician before applying any more of it. Another general precaution is that it shouldn’t get into the eyes where it can cause significant irritation.

Since this medication is frequently available by prescription only, people should be advised to use it only as intended by the prescribing physician. It should not be used more often if it isn’t improving an infection, and it ought not to be employed for other conditions for which it wasn’t prescribed. Doctors recommend discarding any left over Bactroban® Cream after treatment is ended, or returning it to a pharmacy that has safe drug disposal methods. However, it shouldn’t be considered a substitute for over the counter antibiotic creams like Neosporin®, which are much less powerful.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there have been no tetrogenic effects on pregnant rats or their fetuses when they have been exposed to mupirocin. However, there have not been studies on potential affects to human fetuses as a result of pregnant mothers using this medication. The FDA concludes the medication is safe and effective for children as young as three months, provided it is used in the fashion prescribed. There may be some excretion of Bactroban's active agents in human milk, and women who are nursing should mention this to doctors who might prescribe the medication.

It’s important to recall that medications like Bactroban® Cream are intended to either halt or prevent bacterial infection. They do not work for viral infections. For example, a person treating a cold sore with mupirocin that is caused by a condition like human papillomavirus (HPV) is just as contagious, and a cold sore won’t be cured if they use an antibacterial cream. Doctors, however, might recommend its use for a cold sore that becomes infected.

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.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon307915 — On Dec 07, 2012

I have bactroban to treat a sore on my arm, but the same sores, identical to the ones that the cream was originally prescribed for, have appeared around my genital area (I am a female). Like the first sore was, they are quite painful and I need to know whether I can use a small amount of the cream to stop this pain, even just until I can see my doctor again. It has worked extremely well on my arm and I am 99 percent certain it is the same thing. I also cannot really afford to see another doctor at the moment.

By lightning88 — On Oct 07, 2010

Could I use a dermatology cream like Kenalog cream to treat a bacterial infection, or do I need to get one that is more specifically targeted to bacterial infections, like Bactroban?

By pharmchick78 — On Oct 07, 2010

@charlie89 -- Oh, there are tons of bacterial skin conditions, and can range from the merely annoying to very serious indeed.

You might recognize one of the most common bacterial skin infections -- cellulitis. Though Bactroban specifically isn't always necessary for mild cases of cellulitis; in more serious cases it is sometimes used.

Another bacterial skin infection that you may be familiar with is a boil, especially those caused by MRSA. These are unfortunately common for people who have stayed in hospitals, where MRSA tends to proliferate.

Another common bacterial infection is impetigo, where a honey-colored hard patch forms on the skin. This is caused by bacteria that have gotten into vulnerable skin.

Most people will get a bacterial skin infection at some time or another in their life, but people who have certain conditions like eczema may experience more, since the bacteria can enter a wound created from scratching the eczema.

That's why it's important to be aware of the signs of a bacterial skin infection, and treat them with the proper medication -- you have no idea how many people try to use eczema cream to kill a bacterial infection!

So if you've got a skin condition that just won't go away, then consult your doctor or dermatologist for a skin treatment cream, and you'll be well on your way to recovery.

By Charlie89 — On Oct 07, 2010

What would be a condition that you would use Bactroban lotion/cream for? I understand that it is intended to keep bacteria from growing on your skin, but what would specific conditions like that be?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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