Compare Polysporin vs. Bactroban

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

Helps prevent skin infections in small cuts, scrapes, and burns.

Polysporin (bacitracin and polymyxin B) is a cheap over-the-counter antibacterial ointment that helps prevent skin infections in small cuts, scrapes, 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.

Upsides
  • Polysporin (bacitracin and polymyxin B) is available over-the-counter and as a generic.
  • It helps prevent skin infections from forming in small cuts, scrapes, or burns.
  • It is easy to use and causes few side effects.
  • 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.
Downsides
  • Polysporin (bacitracin and polymyxin B) can only be used for small cuts, scrapes, or burns. It can’t be used for large and serious skin infections, deep wounds or cuts, animal bites, or serious burns.
  • It might cause a skin rash in some people.
  • You need to wash your hands before and after using Polysporin (bacitracin and polymyxin B).
  • 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
  • Impetigo
  • Secondary skin infections
  • MRSA colonization in the nostrils
Dosage forms
  • Ointment
  • Powder
  • Cream
  • Ointment
Price
No pricing information available
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Reviews
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Side effects
The Polysporin (bacitracin and polymyxin B) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
7possible side effects
  • Headache
    9%
  • Stuffy nose
    6%
  • Lung or breathing problems
    5%
  • Sore throat
    4%
  • Taste changes
    3%
  • Burning/ Stinging
    2%
  • Cough
    2%
See more detailed side effects
Risks and risk factors
  • Skin rash
  • Use only on your skin
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Allergic reaction
  • Eye irritation
  • Irritation at the application site
  • Severe diarrhea
  • New bacteria or fungi
    • Long-term use of Bactroban (mupirocin)
  • Use in the nose
See more detailed risks and warnings