Mupirocin for skin infections (Bactroban)

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Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, apply mupirocin 2-3 times a day for ten days.

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

Type of medicine An antibacterial skin preparation
Used for Bacterial skin infections in adults and children
Also called Bactroban®
Available as Cream and ointment

Mupirocin is an antibacterial cream/ointment which is used to treat small areas of skin infection. It is sometimes used to treat infections such as impetigo in children. It works by killing the germs (bacteria) causing the infection.

Mupirocin is used in particular to treat infections caused by bacteria called meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Infection with MRSA bacteria mainly occurs in people who are already ill in hospital. The infection can be difficult to treat and it can also spread to other people.

There is also a nasal ointment which contains mupirocin. It is prescribed for people who have been in contact with people with MRSA infection. It helps to stop the infection from spreading to other people. See separate medicine leaflet called Mupirocin nasal ointment which gives more information about this preparation.

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

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding - although mupirocin is not known to be harmful to babies, it is still important that you tell your doctor about this.
  • If you have a problem with the way your kidneys work.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine, or to any skin preparation.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about the preparation prescribed for you.
  • Wash your hands before you use the cream/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 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.
  • You may be asked to use an antiseptic wash 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.
  • 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. The table below contains the most common ones associated with mupirocin. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any continue or become troublesome.

Common mupirocin side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people) What can I do if I experience this?
Your skin may itch, burn or sting slightly when you first apply mupirocin This should soon pass
Allergic-type skin reactions Some of the ingredients can cause allergic skin reactions in some people. If you develop a particularly irritating or severe skin reaction, stop using mupirocin and speak with your doctor as soon as possible.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the cream/ointment, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

This preparation is for use on the skin only. If someone swallows some of it by accident, 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 (v24)
Last Checked:
21/01/2016
Next Review:
20/01/2019
The Information Standard - certified member

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