Is there an over-the-counter antibiotic cream?

Reviewed by:
Dr. Robert Kwok
Director of Health Informatics
Last updated on December 2, 2021

If you’re wondering if you can get an over-the-counter antibiotic cream, the answer is yes!

But before you rush out and buy one, ask yourself: Am I sure I need this?

Antibiotic creams can come in handy in the right situations. But they’re probably used more often than they need to be, and that can lead to problems much larger than a minor cut.

Read on to learn more about topical antibiotics and when to use them.

What topical antibiotics can you get over the counter?

The two most common antibiotic creams are bacitracin and polymyxin. These are most commonly recognized under their brand names Neosporin and Polysporin, respectively.

These creams help prevent bacterial infections and are intended for use on deep cuts. 

You don’t need a topical antibiotic for every cut

Contrary to what you may have learned growing up, not every cut calls for a dab of Nesporin.

If you have a minor cut or abrasion, it’s usually enough to wash it thoroughly with hand soap and put a bandage on it. Reach for the bacitracin or polymyxin when it’s beyond a simple scratch but not to the point where you need stitches. (If you’re not sure, clean and cover the wound and call a doctor.)

Antibiotic creams should be used sparingly because overuse can lead to antibiotic resistance.

Are there prescription antibiotic creams?

Yes. Your HealthTap doctor could diagnose and prescribe antibiotics online for:

  • Mild acne.

  • Diaper rash.

  • Eczema.

Still have questions?

We are here to help! Talk to your HealthTap doctor today to get all your health concerns addressed. 

healthtap-how-it-works-section-B.jpg


HealthTap Editors

HealthTap Editors

HealthTap articles are reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Visit https://www.healthtap.com/about-doctors/ to learn more and meet some of the medical editorial board members behind our blog. The information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. HealthTap is a virtual-first, affordable urgent- and primary-care clinic, providing top-quality physician care nationwide to Americans with or without insurance. Our proprietary, easy-to-use, and innovative apps and electronic medical record apply Silicon Valley standards to effectively engage consumers and doctors online to increase the equity, accessibility, and efficiency of ongoing medical care for consumers, providers, employers, and payers. In addition, with HealthTap, businesses can offer virtual primary care to employees for less than the cost of free coffee. HealthTap's US-based board-certified physicians are available throughout North America. For more information, visit www.healthtap.com.
Share:

More articles in Antibiotics

Antibiotics

Can antibiotics make you feel tired?

If you’ve been prescribed a round of antibiotics, you might be thinking, “Whoa, hang on! Will these make me sleepy?” And that’s a reasonable concern—it’s possible.
Antibiotics

What are the best antibiotics for strep throat?

We all get sore throats and swollen glands from time to time. But how do you know when yours is strep throat that demands special attention? And what types of antibiotics might you need to treat it?
Antibiotics

Do I need antibiotics for a UTI?

UTIs are uncomfortable and can cause serious issues if they’re left untreated and allowed to spread. The treatment involves some type of antibiotic, which means you’ll need to see your doctor.
Antibiotics

Are there over-the-counter antibiotics for my tooth infection?

A tooth infection is no fun to deal with. But before you run out to the drugstore in search of a quick fix, let us save you the trip: over-the-counter antibiotics for a tooth infection don’t exist.
Antibiotics

Should I take antibiotics for gonorrhea?

If you have or think you may have gonorrhea, HealthTap online doctors say antibiotics are a must.
Antibiotics

Can I get over-the-counter antibiotics for chlamydia?

If you’re dealing with a chlamydia infection, your doctor is most likely going to prescribe antibiotics. So, couldn’t you skip the doctor’s appointment and just buy antibiotics over the counter?
Read more

Not just a doctor —
your doctor