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Owner Johnson & Johnson
Introduced 1952
Markets Ointments
Combination of
Polymyxin B Antibiotic
Neomycin Antibiotic
Bacitracin Antibiotic
Clinical data
AHFS/ Micromedex Detailed Consumer Information
Licence data US FDA:link
  • C
ChemSpider 10481985 YesY
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Neosporin (from neo, (Greek) new + sporos, (Greek) seed) is an antibiotic product marketed for the prevention of infections and speeding the healing of wounds.

Concern exists that the use of Neosporin contributes to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In the US, the only large market for Neosporin, the ointment has been shown to promote the prevalence of MRSA bacteria,[1] specifically the highly lethal ST8:USA300 strain.[2]


The original ointment contains three different antibiotics: bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B, in a relatively low-molecular-weight patented base of cocoa butter, cottonseed oil, sodium pyruvate, tocopheryl acetate, and petroleum jelly.

The generic name for these products, regardless of the base, is "triple antibiotic ointment". In China, this product is called "complex polymyxin B ointment," which is manufactured by Zhejiang Reachall Pharmaceutical. The product was also marketed by the Upjohn Company under the name "Mycitracin", until 1997 when that name was acquired by Johnson & Johnson.[3]

Some people have allergic reactions to neomycin, so a "double antibiotic ointment" is sold that contains only bacitracin and polymyxin B, such as the cobrand Polysporin.

A "Plus" variant of the ointment exists that adds the analgesic pramoxine, but uses the cheap, simple, long-lasting, but heavier petroleum jelly base common to many over-the-counter topicals. The latest version of this, a high-absorption cream, removes the bacitracin, which is unstable in such a base, but keeps the analgesic.


One study showed no evidence that covering a small wound with Polysporin provided any benefit greater than that of simple petroleum jelly (although this study admits the sample size was relatively small),[4] while another study showed that minor wounds treated with Neosporin showed a "significantly" decreased rate of infection.[5] Neosporin has been shown to cause contact dermatitis[6] in some cases, and may contribute to antibiotic resistance.[7][8]


  1. ^ Martin, David (14 September 2011). "MRSA in U.S. becoming resistant to over the counter ointment". CNN. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 
  2. ^ Suzuki, M; Yamada, K; Nagao, M; Aoki, E; Matsumoto, M; Hirayama, T; Yamamoto, H; Hiramatsu, R; Ichiyama, S; Iinuma, Yoshitsugu (2011). "Antimicrobial ointments and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus USA300". Emerging infectious diseases 17 (10): 1917–20. doi:10.3201/eid1710.101365. PMC 3310646. PMID 22000371. 
  3. ^ "McNeil Consumer Products Co. strengthens worldwide lead in OTC pain reliever market" (Press Release). Business Wire (Fort Washington, PA: Business Wire). June 5, 1997. Retrieved June 28, 2011 
  4. ^ Draelos, ZD; Rizer, RL; Trookman, NS (2011). "A comparison of postprocedural wound care treatments: Do antibiotic-based ointments improve outcomes?". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 64 (3 Suppl): S23–9. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2010.11.010. PMID 21247662. 
  5. ^ "Do topical antibiotics improve wound healing?" Diehr, Sabina; Hamp, Andrew; Jamieson, Barbara. Journal of Family Practice 56(2) 2007: 140+. Abstract: The use of topical triple-antibiotic ointments significantly decreases infection rates in minor contaminated wounds compared with a petrolatum control. Plain petrolatum ointment is equivalent to triple-antibiotic ointments for sterile wounds as a post-procedure wound dressing (strength of recommendation [SOR]: A, based on randomized controlled trials [RCTs]).
  6. ^ Sheth, VM; Weitzul, S (2008). "Postoperative topical antimicrobial use". Dermatitis : contact, atopic, occupational, drug : official journal of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, North American Contact Dermatitis Group 19 (4): 181–9. PMID 18674453. 
  7. ^ Spann, CT; Taylor, SC; Weinberg, JM (2004). "Topical antimicrobial agents in dermatology". Disease-a-month : DM 50 (7): 407–21. doi:10.1016/j.disamonth.2004.05.011. PMID 15280871. 
  8. ^ Trookman, NS; Rizer, RL; Weber, T (2011). "Treatment of minor wounds from dermatologic procedures: A comparison of three topical wound care ointments using a laser wound model". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 64 (3 Suppl): S8–15. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2010.11.011. PMID 21247665. 

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