Compare Neosporin vs. Bactroban

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Neosporin (neomycin / polymyxin / bacitracin)


Bactroban (mupirocin)

Prescription only
Helps prevent infection in minor cuts, scrapes, and burns.

Neosporin (neomycin / polymyxin / bacitracin) is an effective, over-the-counter, first-line infection prevention in minor scrapes, cuts, and burns.

Treats certain skin infections and kills bacteria in the nose.

Compared to over-the-counter first aid topical antibiotics, Bactroban (mupirocin) can kill a larger variety of bacteria and is a good alternative if you're allergic to certain ingredients in OTC products.

  • Can help your wound heal faster.
  • Comes in a ointment, cream, foam and spray.
  • Is available over-the-counter.
  • A more affordable generic option is also available.
  • Comes in formulations that can also help treat pain, itch, and scars.
  • Can kill more types of bacteria than over-the-counter first aid topical antibiotics.
  • Works well at preventing resistant bacteria (bacteria that is hard to treat) in your nose from spreading to other areas.
  • Is generally a tolerable medicine. Few people experience side effects.
  • May not be effective for large or deep cuts.
  • May be more expensive than some over-the-counter first-aid topical antibiotics.
  • You have to remember to apply this 3 times a day for skin infections, and 2 times a day for bacteria in the nose.
Used for
  • Minor cuts
  • Minor scrapes
  • Minor burns
  • Impetigo
  • Secondary skin infections
  • MRSA colonization in the nostrils
Dosage forms
  • Cream
  • Ointment
  • Foam
  • Spray
  • Cream
  • Ointment
No pricing information available
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Side effects
The Neosporin (neomycin / polymyxin / bacitracin) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
7possible side effects
  • Headache
  • Stuffy nose
  • Lung or breathing problems
  • Sore throat
  • Taste changes
  • Burning/ Stinging
  • Cough
See more detailed side effects
Risks and warnings
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • New bacteria or fungi

    Long-term use of Bactroban (mupirocin)

See more detailed risks and warnings