Polysporin Vs Neosporin - What type of wounds and which one to use (2023)

Topical antibiotics are medications applied directly to the skin to kill bacteria. Some of these medications can be purchased without a prescription and come in a variety of forms. Topical antibiotics can come as ointments, creams, sprays, or even powders.

Among common topical antibiotics, polysporin and neosporin are very common and widely used. Its main use is to prevent infections caused by bacteria that can get into small cuts, scrapes and burns. If you treat a small wound with a topical antibiotic, the wound will heal much faster.

If the same wound is left untreated, bacteria can multiply faster. This can make the wound sore, causing swelling and redness, as well as itching and discharge. Untreated wounds can become infected and cause more serious problems.

What types of wounds do topical antibiotics treat?

Different types of topical antibiotics are used on different types of wounds. Polysporin and Neosporin are mainly used to treat open wounds of various types.

An open wound is an injury that involves an internal or external tear in body tissue. This usually happens when there is a break in the skin. Almost everyone experiences an open sore at some point in their life. Most of these open sores are usually small and can be treated at home.

Typical open wounds are abrasions, cuts, lacerations, punctures or lacerations. Open sores can range from mild to severe, depending on their size and depth.

However, topical antibiotics such as Polysporin and Neosporin are only used to treat minor wounds. Some of them may include the following types:

cuts and scrapes

Cuts and scrapes are open wounds. And the main complication of an open wound is the risk of infection. The most common bacteria that cause skin infections are staphylococci and streptococci.

If you have a small cut or scrape, use a topical antibiotic to prevent infection. You can use Polysporin or Neosporin for this. Both antibiotics prevent bacteria from entering the wound through the open skin.

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Treat a cut or scrape by washing the wound first. This will help remove dirt and germs. After cleaning the wound with a mild soap or antibacterial detergent, dry the area thoroughly. Then apply an antibiotic ointment several times a day. Cover with a sterile bandage or bandage.

Make sure the dressing allows air to enter the wound.


A burn is a type of skin injury caused primarily by damage from heat, chemicals, or friction. But not all burns can be treated with Polysporin or Neosporin. Rather, the severity of the burn must first be determined, and then the prescribed treatment.

A first or second degree burn, although painful, is limited to only the first or second layer of skin. It doesn't go any deeper. Typically, this type of injury is considered minor unless a significant amount of skin is damaged.

A third-degree burn may not cause immediate pain, but it is the deepest type. Third-degree burns involve deep tissue damage and are very serious. They always need emergency medical care and cannot be treated at home.

If there is a theft or burn, skin infection can occur. Bacteria can then enter the skin opening and infect the site. Exposure to bacterial invasion can be significantly reduced by cleaning the wound first. Then apply a topical ointment, then apply a sterile bandage or bandage.

Choose a dressing that allows air to circulate through the dressing.

herpes labial

Polysporin and Neosporin can also be applied to cold sores. However, cold sores are not caused by bacteria but by viruses. This means that topical antibiotics do not stop the virus from spreading, but they can help you become secondarily infected with bacteria.

eczema itch

Both Polysporin and Neosporin have products to ease the discomfort of eczema. Both brands carry moisturizers to treat this skin condition where the skin fails to retain moisture and can feel dry and tight. The result is itchy skin, irritation and swelling, leading to a rash.

(Video) Applying Neosporin and a Bandage to My Wound

Sometimes itching starts before the rash appears. The rash can also cause a crusty condition to appear on the face and hands. Some people may also experience eczema flare-ups when they come into contact with certain materials.

While there is no cure for eczema, the condition can be treated with daily skin care. You can try to manage eczema by focusing on gentle cleansing and moisturizing.

Poison Ivy Itch

Another condition that can be treated with polysporin or neosporini poison ivy. Poison ivy can trigger an allergic reaction caused by the plant's resin. Upon contact, an oily substance is released that causes an itchy rash. The rash may start out as streaks or patches of reddened skin. Bumps and blisters can form on the skin.

You should try to wash the resin off the skin first and then apply a cold compress. To reduce the associated itch, use a topical antibiotic such as an itch-relieving lotion or hydrocortisone anti-itch cream.

Itchy insect bites

Insect bites and stings can often cause irritating, temporary itching or pain. The symptoms of these bites are usually mild and transient and can be treated with the use of Polysporin or Neospor ointments. You can apply a topical anesthetic or anti-itch lotion to minimize irritation, or a topical steroid to reduce redness and burning.

sunburn itch

Sunburn occurs when the body is exposed to too much sunlight. As a result, there may be a persistent and unbearable itch that is red, swollen and painful to the touch.

However, sunburn symptoms do not appear until 2 to 4 hours after the skin has been damaged. And the peak feeling of pain, redness and swelling occurs only after 24 hours.

Like any other burn, sunburn takes time to heal. To find pain relief, try cold packs and cool baths to relieve scabies symptoms. You can also use itch-relieving lotions to soothe the skin. Or use an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream to reduce swelling.

How to use topical antibiotics

When treating a wound, just applying a topical antibiotic is not enough. Instead, you must first clean the wound with soap and water and let it dry completely. Then apply the topical antibiotic to the broken skin, being careful not to spread it over a large area. Spreading the ointment on the surrounding skin can prevent the skin from breathing naturally.

(Video) Neosporin | Neosporin antibiotic ointment | Neosporin ointment | Neosporin eye ointment

After applying the ointment, cover the wound with a breathable bandage or bandage. You can also use a protective spray or gel. The best course of action is to keep skin wounds clean as they heal.

Polysporin Vs Neosporin - What type of wounds and which one to use (1)

Polysporin vs. Neosporin – which one to use?

Both Polysporin and Neosporin are accepted topical antibacterial ointments. You can apply them to prevent open wounds from becoming contaminated. In addition, they act as excellent antiseptics that prevent the accumulation of bacteria in the wound. These two properties make these two topical antibiotics ideal for promoting wound healing.

Deciding whether Polysporin or Neosporin is the best choice depends on a few different factors. For example, there may be a personal preference for one over the other, but you also need to consider what active ingredients are in the medications.

Most of the time, both topical antibiotics are used to treat the same type of skin damage. In this regard, one might think that polysporin and neosporin can always be used interchangeably. However, this is not the case as the two have different chemical compositions. Based on this, the only important consideration is the development of an allergic reaction.

To understand this better, let's take a look at the active ingredients of the two drugs:

active ingredients

Polysporin has two active ingredients - polymyxin B sulfate and zinc bacitracin. In contrast, Neosporin contains these two plus a third ingredient known as neomycin sulfate.

As such, Neosporin is recognized as a triple antibiotic ointment. And research shows that using topical antibiotic ointments can significantly reduce infection rates in low-contamination wounds. Combination antibiotics like Neosporin make them more effective against a broader spectrum of bacteria.

possible side effects

When comparing Polysporin and Neosporin, you also need to consider the possible side effects of using each antibiotic. The active substance bacitracin zinc can cause an allergic reaction, which prohibits the use of both antibiotics.

(Video) Applying bacitracin, neosporin or polysporin

However, people who are not allergic to bacitracin can safely use polysporin.

Neosporin has a third active ingredient called neomycin sulfate, which can also cause allergic reactions. In this case, those who tolerate bacitracin but cannot tolerate neomycin should use only polysporin.

The preference for using Polysporin over Neosporin is decided based on the likelihood of an allergic reaction. Both Polysporin and Neosporin contain active ingredients that can cause allergic reactions.

Some people prefer polysporin simply because of the lack of neomycin. Others may choose Neosporin because it contains more active ingredients. This can make them feel that Neosporin is a more effective wound healer.

Due to the increased risk of neomycin allergy, Neosporin can only be recommended if other antibiotics are not effective.

Pain Relieving Properties of Polysporin vs. Neosporin

Both topical antibiotics have the potential to relieve pain. They can be used not only to promote wound healing, but also to relieve pain. Active ingredients like Pramoxine in Neosporin and Lidocaine Hydrochloride in Polysporin help reduce wound pain.

Medical interactions with Polysporin and Neosporin

Some medical conditions can interact with any of the topical antibiotics.

  • You must inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. The same goes for breastfeeding.
  • Tell your doctor if you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications. The same applies to taking dietary supplements or herbal preparations.
  • Since allergies can be a concern, let your doctor know if you have any allergies. It can be allergies to food, dyes, medications, preservatives or other substances.

Precautions when using Polysporin versus Neosporin

Over-the-counter topical antibiotics should only be used as directed. There are recommended usage and dosage recommendations that should be followed. Do not use the medicine for longer than recommended, as this can lead to antibiotic resistance.

  • In general, topical antibiotics like Polysporin and Neosporin should be applied as soon as possible after an injury. Or at most four hours after skin damage. The dosage is also adjusted to no more than three times a day.
  • Topical antibiotics should only be used on the skin. They are not to be continued indefinitely or for extended periods of time. If the wound does not heal within five days, stop taking the antibiotic and see a doctor.
  • Certain types of skin damage may require medical attention. Do not self-treat these wounds with topical antibiotics. This can include issues such as deep cuts or large wounds. Cuts that bleed continuously or require stitches should be reported to a doctor. In addition, deep wounds or animal bites must also be treated medically.
  • While topical antibiotics treat bacterial infections, they can allow fungal infections to grow. Treating yeast infections may require the use of other antibiotics.
  • If you use topical antibiotics to treat minor skin damage, avoid other topical treatments. This may involve concomitant use of a topical corticosteroid. Using two of these drugs at the same time may mask some signs of an infection or allergic reaction.
  • Both Polysporin and Neosporin are restricted for use when the wound is contaminated or the immune system is compromised. For topical antibiotics to work best, they should only be used to stop infection in a new wound. They should not be used to treat an infection that has already started.


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