Is it time to ditch the Neosporin?

August 15, 2017

Is it time to ditch the Neosporin?

 

By Dr. Stacy Matthews

Many typical medicine cabinets contain the well-known Neosporin ointment or cream as the “go-to” first-aid remedy used for common scrapes and cuts from falls or other minor skin traumas. This antibacterial ointment contains bacitracin zinc, neomycin sulfate, and polymyxin B sulfate. As the most popular over-the-counter skin drug, Neosporin is effectively marketed as the best first line of defense against minor wound infection and for speedy wound healing. Yet, many who trust and rely on this product do not consider the drawbacks of its use. 

Besides a lack of evidence that it heals wounds any faster than the body’s natural mechanisms, the main concern regarding widespread use of Neosporin is its three main antibiotic ingredients. People are becoming increasingly aware of the concept of bacterial resistance. Improper and unnecessary use of antibiotics run the risk of overgrowth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This phenomenon is a public health problem that leaves many people with infections that are hard to treat. 

Our skin and other areas of the body contain bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that are actually good guys. This collection of microorganisms on our skin is called our skin microbiome or flora (1). Instead of hurting us, they actually help protect us from being overcome by disease-causing microorganisms. Unfortunately, these good organisms can be killed by antibiotics such as those in Neosporin. This risk is higher when the triple antibiotic is used when there is not even an infection. What can result are skin problems much worse than the minor cut that was treated in the first place. Due to the loss of the good microorganism defenses, fungal and other microorganisms take advantage and cause infection.

Furthermore, Neosporin poses risk of allergic reactions (2) and irritation to skin.  As mentioned, the product contains neomycin. This antibiotic is the main component responsible for the incidence of allergy seen with Neosporin use. These allergic reactions can be immediate or take a little time (up to a week) to develop. Better approaches to minor wounds are proper cleaning and using alternative natural products that are nonallergenic, nonirritating, and that do not contain unnecessary antibiotics. 

 

1. Grice EA, Segre JA. The skin microbiome. Nature reviews Microbiology. 2011;9(4):244-253. doi:10.1038/nrmicro2537.

 

2. Shahbazian JH, Hartzell TL, Pandey AK, Azari KK. Allergic Dermatitis Due to Topical Antibiotics. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2012;13(4):380-382. doi:10.5811/westjem.2011.9.6851.



Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Conscientious Skincare

Top 8 Acne Treatment Mistakes
Top 8 Acne Treatment Mistakes

December 06, 2017

Avoid these common acne treatment mistakes.

Read More

Toner Use: The Import Second Step in Facial Skin Cleansing
Toner Use: The Import Second Step in Facial Skin Cleansing

November 15, 2017

Toning the skin with Cytotone Waterless Cleanser is a key step in maintaining a healthy skin pH.

Read More

Lip Eczema Relief
Lip Eczema Relief

October 26, 2017 1 Comment

Read More