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Antibiotics for Impetigo

There are two general types of antibiotics used for impetigo treatment: topical antibiotics (applied to the skin) and oral antibiotics (taken by mouth).
For less severe impetigo, a healthcare provider may recommend a topical antibiotic. This medication generally comes in the form of a cream or ointment and is applied directly to the skin. Mupirocin (Bactroban®) is the antibiotic most often recommended. Other choices can include retapamulin (Altabax®) or tetracycline.
Although hydrogen peroxide cream may be recommended as an alternative to topical antibiotics, research has shown that over-the-counter (OTC) options, such as Neosporin® (bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B), may not be effective. They can also irritate the skin that is affected by impetigo.
For infections that are more widespread or deep, an antibiotic taken by mouth may be prescribed. Dicloxacillin, cephalexin, and clindamycin are examples of oral antibiotics used for treating impetigo.
(Click Impetigo Treatment for more information on when a healthcare provider may recommend an oral or topical antibiotic for treating impetigo. This article also covers some important suggestions for how to ensure your treatment is effective.)
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