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Mupirocin for skin infections

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Use 2-3 times daily for up to ten days.

Your skin may sting a little at first but this should soon pass.

Type of medicineTopical antibacterial preparation
Used forBacterial skin infections
Also calledBactroban®
Available asCream and ointment

Mupirocin is an antibiotic cream/ointment which you apply to your skin to treat skin infections. It is used in particular to treat infections caused by meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It works by killing the bacteria causing the infection.

There is also a nasal ointment containing mupirocin which is used to kill bacteria in the nose. This helps to stop MRSA from spreading to other people. There is another separate leaflet called Mupirocin nasal ointment which gives more information about this.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using mupirocin it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have a problem with the way your kidneys work.
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any preparations you are using which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the preparation prescribed for you.
  • Wash your hands before you use the cream or ointment. Use a cotton wool pad to apply a small amount to the infected area. It may sting a little when you first apply it, but this should soon pass. You can use a sticking plaster or dressing to protect the treated area if needed. You should use mupirocin two or three times a day unless your doctor has told you otherwise. Do not use it for longer than ten days.
  • For mupirocin to work properly it should be applied regularly. If you forget to use it at your usual time, apply it as soon as you remember and then go on as before.
  • You may be asked to use an antiseptic wash or solution as part of your treatment. This is to prevent the bacteria causing your infection from becoming resistant to treatment, so it is important you follow the advice you are given.
  • You should notice your skin starting to get better within a few days. If you haven't noticed any improvement after 4-5 days, check with your doctor for further advice. If after ten days your symptoms have not gone, talk to your doctor about this too.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are using mupirocin. This is especially important if you are using it for MRSA.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common mupirocin side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who use this medicineWhat can I do if I experience this?
Your skin may itch, burn or sting slightly when you first apply mupirocinThis should soon pass. If you develop a particularly irritating or severe reaction, stop using it and speak with your doctor as soon as possible

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this preparation, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Do not store any cream or ointment left over at the end of your treatment for another time. Ask your pharmacy to dispose of it.

This preparation is for use on the skin only. If someone swallows some of it, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
3286 (v23)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
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