Bacitracin vs Mupirocin (Bactroban) – Uses, Side Effects, Differences

Bacitracin is a polypeptide antibiotic produced by Bacillus subtilis (a Gram-positive, catalase-positive bacterium) which is used for the treatment of wound infections, skin infections, eye infections, and other conditions.

It is available without a prescription.


This medicine is typically used in the treatment of:

  • Streptococcal infections;
  • Enterocolitis (an inflammation of the digestive tract);
  • Staphylococcal infections;
  • Bacterial eye infections.

Also, it is used in the prevention of bacterial skin diseases. Do not take it by mouth. In addition, it will not work for fungus or virus infections.


It is typically used 1 to 2 times per day.

Side Effects And Precautions

When applied topically, it doesn’t cause any common side effects. Serious side effects may include:

  • blood in the urine;
  • urinating more than usual;
  • painful urination;
  • lower back pain.

Common side effects of the injection form may include:

  • mild skin rash;
  • nausea;
  • burning where the drug is injected;
  • vomiting.

Before using this drug, tell your healthcare professional if you are allergic to zinc or any other drug as well as what nonprescription and prescription drugs, nutritional supplements, vitamins, and herbal products you are taking.

If you plan to become pregnant, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding a baby, it is best to avoid this medication since there are no conclusive studies regarding its safety.

Moreover, do not use this medication to treat puncture wounds, animal bites, severe burns, or deep skin wounds.


It is an antibiotic that is sold under the brand name Bactroban. It is used topically for the treatment of a bacterial disease of the skin (called impetigo) caused by Staphylococcus aureus (a gram-positive, round-shaped bacterium), Streptococcus pyogenes, and beta-hemolytic streptococcus.

This medication works by blocking the production of protein by the pathogenic bacteria that typically results in bacterial death.


It is an antibiotic that is used to treat certain skin infections, like – impetigo, a bacterial skin infection that causes red sores. Also, it can be used in biopsy sites, minor burns, and minor cuts.


This medication is used topically 3 times per day. Signs of improvement typically occur in 3 to 5 days. However, if the problem does not improve or gets worse, see your healthcare professional.

Note – it should not be used on a child younger than 3 months old.

Side Effects And Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • increased oozing at the infection site;
  • swelling of the treated skin;
  • nausea;
  • tenderness in the treated area.

Rare side effects may include:

  • toxicity to organs of hearing;
  • a toxic effect on the brain;
  • slow heartbeat;
  • seizures;
  • involuntary quivering;
  • head pain;
  • drowsiness;
  • decreased lung function;
  • abnormally low blood pressure;
  • abnormal heart rhythm.

Some people can experience an allergic reaction, with symptoms including:

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

If you are breastfeeding or pregnant, it is best to avoid this antibiotic because there are no conclusive clinical studies regarding its safety. Also, avoid getting this ointment in contact with the eyes.

Furthermore, using this medicine for a long time can cause microscopic organisms, like – fungi or bacteria, to overgrow.

Bacitracin vs Mupirocin (Bactroban) – Which Is Better For Staphylococcus Aureus Infections?

Bacitracin is an antibiotic that inhibits the growth of bacteria mainly by altering membrane permeability and by preventing the formation of peptidoglycan chains required for cell wall synthesis.

However, the incidence of allergy to this antibiotic has considerably increased over the last decade, most likely due to more frequent use.

Mupirocin is an antibiotic used to treat infections caused by bacteria called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This type of infection usually happens in people who are already ill in the hospital.

According to studies, it is more efficient than bacitracin for the eradication of Staphylococcus aureus.

Good Home Remedies For The Eradication Of S. aureus

#1 Turmeric

Turmeric (scientific name – Curcuma longa) is a good natural remedy to fight this bacterium. It has potent antibacterial, antioxidant, wound-healing, and anti-inflammatory attributes which help fight the infection successfully and quickly.

Also, consuming turmeric gives a boost to the immune system. In addition, it is recommended to consume turmeric combined with black pepper.

To treat bacterial infections, you just need to mix water with freshly ground turmeric to make a fine paste. Then, apply this paste topically on the affected skin area. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse off with water. Repeat this process two times per day until you get relief from the skin infection.

Note – benefits of turmeric include so many healing characteristics that currently there are more than 10,300 peer-reviewed articles published.

#2 Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has potent antibiotic properties and when applied to skin infection, it can cure it over time. For instance, researchers have concluded that this medicinal plant could be an alternative for antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, according to a 2015 study.

Also, aloe vera prevents cell death around the skin infection, hence, it lowers the risk of infection.

#3 Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has antimicrobial and antifungal activity and works as an effective natural remedy for any type of fungal infection, most likely due to the presence of medium-chain fatty acids.

These essential fatty acids work as fungicides to kill the fungi that cause the infection. To use it, you just need to apply coconut oil to the affected skin area three times per day.

Note – if you have a history of allergies, use caution when using coconut oil.

#4 Tea Tree Oil

Due to its strong and effective anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, tea tree essential oil is effective for treating bacterial skin infections. In addition, tea tree essential oil relieves skin discomforts caused by the infection.

Mix equal amounts of sweet almond oil and tea tree essential oil and use this solution topically on the affected skin area.

#5 Probiotics

Probiotics are live yeasts and bacteria which are beneficial for your health, particularly your digestive system. Also, the good gut bacteria is responsible for:

  • stimulating the secretion of IgA;
  • creating enzymes that destroy harmful bacteria;
  • producing vitamin B12.

Regular intake of probiotics will also boost your immunity to fight against any type of bacterial infection.

Images credit – Shutterstock & Getty

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