How Do Topical Antibacterials Work?

Reviewed on 6/10/2021

WHAT ARE TOPICAL ANTIBACTERIALS AND HOW DO THEY WORK?

Topical antibacterials are a class of medications used to prevent and treat infections caused by bacteria and minor skin infections caused by cuts, scrapes, and burns. If these wounds are left untreated, bacteria can multiply, causing pain, redness, swelling and itching, and oozing.

Topical antibacterials work in the following ways:

  • They slow down or stop the growth of the bacteria.
  • They reduce the swelling, redness, and itching by activating natural substances in the skin.

Different kinds of topical antibiotics kill different types of bacteria. Many first-aid antibiotic products contain combinations of antibiotics to make them effective against a broad range of bacteria. Some topical antibiotics are available without a prescription and sold in several forms, including creams, ointments, powders, and sprays.

Apply a thin layer of the medication on the skin after cleaning and drying the affected area, usually one to three times daily or as directed by your doctor. After the antibiotic is applied, the wound should be covered with a dressing; it is best to keep wounds clean and moist while they heal.

Certain kinds of injuries may need medical care and should not be self-treated with topical antibiotics. These include:

  • Large wounds
  • Cuts that are bleeding profusely or need stitches
  • Scrapes imbedded with foreign particles
  • Animal bites
  • Eye injuries

HOW ARE TOPICAL ANTIBACTERIALS USED?

Topical antibacterials can be used to treat both gram-positive and gram-negative bacterial infections, such as:

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WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF TOPICAL ANTIBACTERIALS?

Common side effects include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Slight burning sensation
  • Redness
  • Pruritis (itching)
  • Dryness

Other rare side effects include:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

WHAT ARE DRUG NAMES OF TOPICAL ANTIBACTERIALS?

Drug names include:                               

References
https://reference.medscape.com/drugs/antibacterials-topical

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-4376/antibiotic-topical/details#:~:text=This%20combination%20product%20is%20used,applied%20to%20the%20affected%20area

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-1254/triple-antibiotic-topical/details

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601061.html

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