Antibiotic ointments may create drug-resistant bacteria
Posted September 15, 2011
Over-the-counter antibiotic creams like Neosporin have long been used to treat small cuts and scrapes. And while they may be good for healing, a new study suggests that overuse of over-the-counter antibiotics can lead to more drug-resistant strain of staph infections.
The study found that overuse of such products could be creating new super strains of MRSA, the bacteria that causes mild to severe skin infections. In certain cases, MRSA can be deadly.
Dr. Matthew Weissman, from the Ryan Nena Community Health Center, said the study provided some interesting insight into how treating cuts with antibiotics impacts the growth of resistant strains of bacteria. Oral antibiotics are no longer the only concern when looking at drug-resistant bacteria.
"What was shocking in the study was that the areas that use more of the antibiotic ointment, specifically in the US, has more resistance than countries that used a lot less of the antibiotic ointment," Weissman said.
For Gitu Ramani, the mother of two boys, the use of over-the-counter antibiotics is common. When her children get scrapes and cuts, she washes them with water and applies Neosporin.
"I just feel when you hear antibiotic you think it' going to get rid of that little bit of infection that would be caused," Ramani said. "There are cuts and scrapes all the time, walking into doors, the dog scratching them, falling in the playground."
Weissman said keeping things simple is the best treatment for small cuts and scrapes.
"Soap and water and a band aid is probably the most important treatment," he said.
In the past, MRSA infections were most common in hospitals. But now the bacteria is turning up in gyms, locker rooms and day cares. Doctors recommend saving the antibiotics for more serious infections and said to look for redness, tenderness and fever as signs of infection.