What Are Neomycin Drops?

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  • Written By: Angie Pollock
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2019
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Neomycin is an aminoglycoside antibiotic prescribed for the treatment of hepatic coma and certain types of bacterial infections. Neomycin drops is the common name for this medication when prescribed in an antibacterial solution for otic and optic use. Primarily prescribed for ear infections, neomycin is combined with polymyxin B and hydrocortisone to create a corticosteroid-type medication. The solution works to not only treat the infection, but also to help to reduce swelling and relieve pain and itching. It may also be prescribed under the brand names Poly-Pred® and Maxitrol® for infections of the eye.

Aminoglycosides are from a group of antibacterial antibiotics developed from the Streptomyces species. Several of the other medications in this group include amikacin, gentamicin, and streptomycin. All are used to treat specific types of infections caused by gram-negative organisms. Neomycin drops are the antibiotic choice for otic conditions like otitis media, or ear infections.

The side effects of neomycin drops are generally non-life threatening and may include irritation of the ear canal such as itching, redness, and swelling. Stinging may occur upon first administering which should diminish. In rare cases, an allergic reaction may occur. Signs of an allergic reaction to neomycin drops include dizziness, skin rash, and difficulty breathing.


For optic use, neomycin drops prevent bacteria growth and alleviate inflammation caused by an eye infection. The medication is dropped into the infected eye, and dosage varies depending on the patient and severity of the infection. Some of the common side effects include blurred vision and temporary burning when applied. More severe reactions reported include itching, eye discharge, and pain. An allergic reaction may occur, with symptoms ranging from skin irritation to breathing difficulties.

The uses for neomycin drops are for both ear and eye infections; however, they are primarily prescribed for infections of the ear. The dose for neomycin drops vary and should be outlined by a doctor. For most otic cases, adults are prescribed four drops in the infected ear, three to four times daily. With the head tilted sideways, the drops are administered into the infected ear. The head is left tilted for approximately five minutes to allow the medicine to thoroughly coat the ear canal and prevent the medicine from draining out.

There risks of neomycin use are low compared to more comprehensive oral antibiotics. People who have had an allergic reaction to other medications should discuss the risks of neomycin drops with their doctor. Women who are pregnant or nursing should also discuss any risks with their primary care physician before use.


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