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Medications to Treat Impetigo

Impetigo is typically treated with antibiotic medications -- either a topical cream or an oral medicine. The topical antibiotics are applied directly to the skin and are used when impetigo is less severe. Mupirocin (Bactroban®) is 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 medication taken by mouth may be prescribed, such as dicloxacillin, cephalexin, or clindamycin.
 
It is important to use antibiotics as directed and finish your prescription, even if the infection has improved. Stopping the treatment too early or skipping a dose can cause the bacteria to become resistant to the medication, which could allow the infection to spread. This may require longer treatment.
 
(Click Impetigo Treatment for a more in-depth look at the medications used to treat impetigo. This article also lists several factors that may help your healthcare provider determine the best option for you.)
 
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