What Is Mupirocin Used For?
While the primary approved uses for mupirocin apply to the treatment or prevention of various bacterial infections, it is sometimes used in an off-label fashion to rid the nasal passages of MRSA bacteria prior to an elective surgery. Children as young as two months old can use both skin formulations of mupirocin. The nasal ointment, however, is only approved for adults.
Mupirocin (Bactroban®) is a prescription antibiotic. It is available in a skin ointment, a skin cream, and a nasal ointment. Each product is approved for different uses.
Mupirocin skin ointment is used for treating impetigo due to Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pyogenes. Impetigo is a skin infection that is quite common among young children. The skin cream is approved to treat "secondarily infected traumatic skin lesions" (infections that occur after an injury or wound to the skin).
The nasal ointment is approved to get rid of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria in the nose in healthcare workers and adult patients during MRSA outbreaks in institutional settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes.
In this situation, the drug is used to treat colonization, not infection. This means it is used to get rid of bacteria that normally inhabit the nostrils of an individual and do not usually cause symptoms in that particular individual. Many people are "carriers" of the MRSA bacteria in their noses; this may be a way that MRSA is spread from person to person.
Mupirocin is effective only against bacteria, and only against specific types of bacteria. It is ineffective for treating viral infections, such as herpes, or fungal infections, such as ringworm.
This medication works by interfering with bacterial protein synthesis. This means that it stops bacteria from making important proteins. More specifically, it works by binding to an important bacterial enzyme known as isoleucyl transfer-RNA synthetase. Mupirocin works against a wide range of bacteria, including (most notably) MRSA.