Impetigo Medicine : Mupirocin, Neosporin, Amoxicillin, Bacitracin and Cephalexin

Impetigo is a bacterial infection of the skin. It is commonly seen in children between ages of 2 and 6 years. Although highly contagious, impetigo is not considered serious. Complications such as blood poisoning and cellulitis can, however, occur when the infection is left without treatment.

There are two major types of impetigo, bullous and nonbullous. The latter is more common and occurs mostly on the face. Bullous impetigo is less common and occurs on the buttocks, thighs and trunk. All the same, either type can appear anywhere in the body. Both types are caused by streptococcus or staphylococcus bacteria.

Not always is treatment necessary for this condition. Impetigo sometimes heals on its own. To avoid unnecessary risks, discomforts and complications, antibiotics are used as the primary treatment options. A valid prescription is required to access effective impetigo antibiotics. This article examines the commonly prescribed antibiotics for impetigo.

Mupirocin for impetigo

Mupirocin for impetigo requires topical application. It is effective both on staph and strep infections, the two major impetigo causes. In fact, mupirocin also works on MRSA. Bactroban and Centany are the brand names under which this sells.


The drug comes in an ointment form to be applied directly. Before application, affected areas should be washed clean and patted dry. Specific instructions on how to use it will be provided by your doctor. Normally, the ointment is supposed to be applied 3 times every day. Internal administration should not be attempted. It also should not be used inside eyes or mouth. Be careful when treating largely blistered areas or impetigo ear infection.

Side effects and warnings:

It is common to experience several side effects when using most medications. In fact, side effects may be a sign that the medication is working. Most mupirocin side effects are tolerable. They may include:

  • Burning
  • Irritation
  • Stinging

Check with your doctor if you experience bloody or watery diarrhea, allergic reactions or pain in the stomach. Inform your doctor if you are allergic to any medications. It is also a good idea to tell your doctor if you are on any medications or have been diagnosed with a chronic disease, especially concerning the kidneys. Mupirocin is not likely to be of any harm to an unborn baby.

Neosporin for impetigo

Neosporin is a medication used to keep bacterial infections from occurring in wounds, cuts and other types of skin injuries. The ointment can be used to prevent impetigo on buttocks in babies. It can be accessed over the counter.


Neosporin is derived by combining bacitracin, neomycin and polymixin. It basically is a combination of three different antibiotics. Combination medicines are stronger than individual drugs.


Neosporin for impetigo should be used externally since it comes in form of ointment. For best results, wash your hands and the affected area before application. 1-3 times daily applications will get the job done. Your pharmacist will provide specific instructions on how the ointment should be used. Ensure not to use more or less than instructed. Since impetigo symptoms will most likely disappear before treatment period is over, medications should not stop being used. Incomplete use of antibiotics may lead to bacterial resistance and hence more aggressive infections.

Side effects and warnings:

Rarely is Neosporin associated with intolerable side effects. Using the ointment more than instructed may cause skin irritation. It can also encourage fungal infections due to alteration of cutaneous flora. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications.

Amoxicillin for impetigo

Amoxicillin belongs in the class of penicillins. It works by inhibiting bacterial growth. Like other antibiotics, amoxicillin doesn’t work on infections caused by viruses or fungi. See impetigo vs ringworm treatments for more details.


Amoxicillin for impetigo is to be taken by mouth in form of tabs or liquid medicine. Specific dosage measurement will be provided by your doctor. The drug can be taken with or without food. Since heavy and fatty meals reduce effectiveness of drugs, it is advisable to take meals 1 hour before taking the drug. Normally, amoxicillin is to be taken in intervals of 6 or 8 hours. Try taking your dosage in uniform intervals for better results. Make sure that all medications are taken as instructed by your doctor. Drink plenty of fluids to aid in the absorption and function of the drug.

Side effects and warnings:

Users often report side effects such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Check with your doctor if the side effects are to become intolerable. People who are allergic to penicillin should not use amoxicillin. Inform your doctor if you have any allergies to medications.

Impetigo rash should improve gradually after starting treatment. If no improvements are noticeable by third day, check with your doctor. Using amoxicillin for long can alter vagina and oral flora. This may cause fungal infections in the vagina and mouth.

Bacitracin for impetigo

Bacitracin is a topical ointment which can be used to treat impetigo. It mostly used to keep wounds and burns from becoming infected. The drug works by inhibiting bacterial growth.


Your pharmacist or doctor will provide specific instructions on how bacitracin for impetigo should be used. Generally, patients should wash their hands and affected areas before application. The ointment is to be applied directly, 1-3 times a day. A loose dressing may be used to keep the medication from rubbing off.  Internal administration or use inside the eyes and mouth are not to be attempted.

Side effects and warnings:

There are no serious side effects associated with bacitracin. Like a majority of topical antibiotics, patients may experience tingling, burning or stinging. Prolonged used may cause skin irritation.

Check with your doctor before starting treatment with bacitracin. Medical attention is also necessary in case of unexpected or severe side effects. By the third day of continued use, most symptoms should have disappeared. In fact, impetigo should have stopped being contagious. Consider a change of medication if this is not the case.

Cephalexin (keflex) for impetigo

Cephalexin is a popular antibiotic. It works on a variety of bacterial infections. The medication doesn’t work on viral or fungal infections. In fact, prolonged use may cause fungal infections.


 Cephalexin for impetigo is to be taken by mouth. It may be in form of tabs or liquid medicine. When taking tabs, your doctor will provide correct dosage measurement. Normally, the drug is to be taken after every six or twelve hours. Heavy meals may reduce absorption, so taking meals about 1 hour before dosage is advisable.

When using liquid medicine, make sure to shake it well before use. In most cases, the bottle comes with a measuring spoon although you still can get one from your pharmacist. Make sure to get the dosage measurement right for liquid medicine.

Side effects and warnings:

Commonly reported side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. They should be tolerable. Otherwise, stop taking medications and check with your doctor.

Tell your doctor if you are allergic to certain medications, especially penicillins. You should also tell if you have been diagnosed with kidney or intestinal disease. People with diabetes should be aware that liquid form of cephalexin may be having sugar. If you or your kid is planning to get immunized against bacterial infections, avoid taking cephalexin.

Any discontinued use of antibiotics should be reported to your doctor. This is actually very important. Not taking medications as instructed can cause more aggressive infections or recurrent ones. Most patients are tempted to stop taking medications once symptoms have disappeared which can be of serious consequences. Read more on how long does impetigo last to know how long you should continue with treatment.

How to choose the best antibiotics for impetigo

When it comes to impetigo cure and medications to stop spreading, oral and topical treatments are considerable options. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of either?

Topical treatments advantages:

  • Affordable – topical medications are far more affordable. Bacterial infections are very common. This makes an expensive treatment option not so suitable for most people.
  • Less dosage measurement – a thin coat applied directly to affected areas several times a day usually gets the job done. Sometimes, symptoms are gone even before the ointment is finished.
  • Mild side effects – most topical antibiotics are not associated with serious side effects such as diarrhea and nausea. They do not alter intestinal flora. Harsh side effects can prove a major issue when treating impetigo in kids.


  • Can cause irritation – a common side effect of topical medications is skin irritation. Continued irritation may result in mild skin injuries which can easily admit bacteria into the skin.
  • Alter cutaneous bacteria – there are many types of bacteria to be found on the skin. Most of them are not harmful. Since topical antibiotics cause unselective destruction of bacteria, cutaneous flora is altered.
  • Not effective for widespread infection – when dealing with infection that has spread or is causing systematic symptoms, it is almost not practical to use creams and ointments.

Advantages of oral medications:

  • Convenient – administration only requires swallowing of one or more tabs. This is very convenient especially when not indoors or when dealing with cases such as impetigo in dogs.
  • Correct dosage measurement – oral medications come in well defined dosage measurements. With ointments for example, patients are required to apply a thin layer. Different people can always have different understandings to what that really means.
  • Noninvasive – most oral medications can be taken with food. Patients don’t have to deal with cases of irritation and tissue damage.


  • Serious side effects – when taking oral medications, there is always the possibility of intolerable side effects that should be reported to a doctor. Severe diarrhea and allergic reactions are good examples.
  • Incomplete drug delivery – even when correct dosage measurement is taken, not all of it reaches the system. Some of it is lost in the digestive tract or flushed out by the liver.
  • Expensive – although oral medicines are more economical in the long run, they are perhaps viewed as more expensive in most people’s perspectives.

At the end of the day, your wellbeing means much compared to different routes of administration. The best approach is to have antibiotics prescribed to you by a doctor. After diagnosis, doctors prescribe the best available option depending on a number of factors.

Other treatment options:

Other than prescription antibiotics, impetigo can also be managed with home treatments and methods for how to prevent impetigo. There is a lot to be learnt on how to treat impetigo and prevent it. Antibiotics are only necessary when infection has occurred. If bacteria that cause impetigo can be kept off the skin, infection can largely be prevented. You can always talk with your doctor especially in the case of recurrent impetigo. It sometimes happens that infection keeps coming back even after successful treatment. This may be caused by an underlying condition or presence of staphylococcus bacteria in the nasal passages.