Research links medical creams and ointments to superbugs

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Research links medical creams and ointments to superbugs

The risk of antibiotic overuse for a common virus or cold is known, however, that awareness is often overlooked for creams and ointments.

Antibiotic creams and ointments are emerging as a major concern in the war against antibiotic resistance. Research indicates that an overuse of antibiotic creams and ointments is linked to the superbug infection.

Many creams on the market contain antibiotics with some of the most common being, Bactroban, commonly used to treat Staph infections on the skin, and Fucidin, which is often used to treat skin infections caused by burns.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when an antibiotic loses its ability to successfully kill bacteria. Once the antibiotic is no longer effective, the bacteria increases its resistance and multiplies.

Patients with infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria are at a higher risk of worsening.


Specialist dermatologist Dr Ritu Gupta, from Platinum Dermatology in Sydney said doctors need to be wary of overprescribing antibiotic creams.

“When people think about antibiotics they usually imagine swallowing a pill or having an injection. They forget that antibiotics also come in creams and ointments for use on the skin.”

“We should only be prescribing topical and oral antibiotics when and if they are required. So if you have a fit and healthy person and a clean site then it doesn’t necessarily need an antibiotic or an antibiotic ointment,” Dr Gupta said.

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