Certain bacterial skin infections -- most notably methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus -- can be treated with mupirocin. This prescription antibiotic is available in three different forms: two are applied to the skin, and one is applied inside the nostrils. It works by preventing bacteria from making an important protein. Side effects largely depend on the form, but can include nausea, headache, and a burning or stinging sensation.
Mupirocin (Bactroban®) is an antibiotic. It comes in the form of a skin ointment, a skin cream, and a nasal ointment.
The skin products are used to treat various skin infections, while the nasal ointment is used to clear the nasal passages of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria in healthcare workers and adult patients during MRSA outbreaks in hospitals, nursing homes, or other institutional settings.
Some people naturally carry the bacteria in their noses (often without any symptoms), and this may be a source for spreading MRSA.
(Click What Is Mupirocin Used For? for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)
Are There Side Effects?
Just like any medicine, mupirocin can cause side effects. However, not everyone who takes the drug will experience problems. Most people tolerate it quite well.
If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider. Serious reactions are less common. The specific side effects depend on the particular form of mupirocin used.
Common side effects seen with mupirocin include but are not limited to:
- Burning or stinging
- Runny nose (for the nasal ointment).
(Click Side Effects of Mupirocin to learn more, including potentially serious side effects you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)