Mupirocin ointment 2% is a topical antibiotic that is active against a wide range of bacteria that can be found in skin infections. The trade name in New Zealand is Bactroban™. In New Zealand, between 1991 and 2000 mupirocin was available “over the counter” (OTC) but increasing resistance patterns (particularly mupirocin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) led the Ministry of Health to reverse the OTC medicine status back to prescription only status.
What is mupirocin used for?
- Impetigo (school sores)
- Furunculosis (boils)
- Infected dermatoses such as eczema, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, epidermolysis bullosa, and ichthyosis
- Infected traumatic lesions such as ulcers, minor burns, abrasions, cuts, wounds
Mupirocin ointment can also be used prophylactically to prevent development of infection and promote healing in minor burns, biopsy sites, minor cuts and other clean lesions.
How should it be used?
A small amount of ointment should be applied to the affected area three times daily, and covered with gauze dressing if necessary. It should not be mixed with any other preparations as this may reduce its potency.
Daily treatment for up to 10 days may be required, depending on the response. Any ointment left over at the end of treatment should be discarded. It is essential to use mupirocin only as directed by your doctor as indiscriminate use can lead to the development of bacterial resistance.
Warnings and precautions for use
In large open wounds and damaged skin polyethylene glycol can be absorbed and excreted by the kidneys, hence mupirocin should be used with caution in patients with moderate or severe renal impairment.
Local adverse reactions to mupirocin include itching, burning, erythema, stinging and dryness. In most cases therapy may be continued, however if sensitisation reaction or severe local irritation occurs treatment should be stopped and the ointment rinsed off.
On DermNet NZ:
- Consumer medicine information and data sheets – Medsafe
- Drugs, Herbs and Supplements – MedlinePlus
- Topical antibiotics – more harm than good? Focus RNZCGP-NZFP Issues
Books about skin diseases:
See the DermNet NZ bookstore
The New Zealand approved datasheet is the official source of information for this prescription medicine, including approved uses and risk information. Check the New Zealand datasheet on the Medsafe website.