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What is Mupirocin?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2016
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Mupirocin is a medication used for treating impetigo, a skin infection caused by bacteria. It is sold under a variety of brand names, including Bactroban®, Bactroban® Nasal, and Bactroban® Centany™. Mupirocin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is commonly used in many countries, including the United States and United Kingdom.

Pharmaceutical company Beecham manufactures the medication as an antibiotic, a treatment used to exterminate or impede the growth of bacteria. In this case, the bacteria growth is a skin infection called impetigo. Impetigo commonly occurs among children four to 14 years of age and is usually spread through contact sports such as football, rugby and wrestling.

This antibiotic has uses that stretch beyond impetigo. Some people turn to it for infections caused by Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This bacterium uses the nose as the main site of its wide range of hard-to-treat infections. In other cases, mupirocin is used to treat acne. The medication has its limitations, as it is ineffective against infections caused by fungi or viruses.

Mupirocin comes in ointment form. The skin should be cleaned thoroughly before application. The recommended frequency of use is three times a day for a one- to two-week period. If a dose is missed at the appointed time, the patient should take it as soon as possible. If the time for the next dose has almost arrived, however, the patient should disregard the missed dose instead of doubling it.

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People who plan to use mupirocin should inform their doctors of any allergies. Also, patients should reveal the medications they are taking, especially chloramphenicol, which like mupirocin is an antibiotic, but one that is used for a wide range of diseases. The FDA places the cream in Category B, which is one of the milder rankings of the agency's classification for pharmaceutical risk to pregnancy. Still, it is advisable for pregnant women to speak with their doctors first.

Side effects of mupirocin include burning, itching, rashes and some pain. Patients should tell their physicians if such side effects persist or become unbearable. As the impetigo treatment is designed solely for external use, it should not touch any orifice of the body, such as the mouth, ears, eyes or nose. Also, users of the ointment should never apply other skin medications to the treated area, nor should they ever use bandages or dressings to cover it up.

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