Nonprescription Neosporin first aid creams and ointments help treat pain and prevent infections in minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Studies have indicated that these products can help reduce scarring and shorten healing time. Contrary to popular belief, you should not use Neosporin in your eyes or nose, or use it to treat dry skin or prevent acne.
What Is Neosporin Used For?Neosporin® nonprescription first aid creams and ointments are used to prevent infections in minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. The products that contain a pain-relieving ingredient (pramoxine) in addition to the antibiotic ingredients are also approved to temporarily relieve pain or discomfort in minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Small studies have shown that Neosporin prevents infection, reduces scarring, and shortens healing time.
Neosporin first aid products are not approved for any other use, despite their widespread popularity for a variety of different purposes.
Some of the other ways people sometimes use Neosporin include:
- In the eyes to treat eye infections
- In the nose to prevent infections or nosebleeds
- On the skin to treat dry skin and infections
- On the face to treat or prevent acne.
However, as the following section explains, many of these uses are not good ideas.
How Not to Use NeosporinYou will find differing opinions on whether it is acceptable to use over-the-counter (OTC) Neosporin products in the eyes or nose. According to the labels for these products, it is not recommended to do so. While you can probably "get away with it" in many situations, serious problems are possible and other, more appropriate treatments are usually available.
It is the general consensus that it is not a good idea to use Neosporin ointment and cream products by mouth or applied in the nose or eyes. They are intended for use only on the skin. In rare cases, products that contain white petrolatum ("petroleum jelly") or mineral oil, including Neosporin ointment and cream, can cause a serious type of pneumonia if applied in the nose or taken by mouth, particularly if some of the product is accidentally inhaled into the lungs.
Over-the-counter Neosporin should probably not be applied in the eyes. Prescription Neosporin eye products are available, but they are not exactly the same as the over-the-counter skin products. The over-the-counter skin products contain several different inactive ingredients that are not intended for use in the eye.
More importantly, products that contain neomycin (including Neosporin) are generally not recommended for treating eye infections anymore, as they have a tendency to cause adverse reactions in the eyes. Even the prescription versions are rarely used at this time.
Finally, Neosporin should not be used to treat dry skin. Neosporin contains antibiotics, and indiscriminate overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. This means that overuse of the antibiotic may lead to infections that are resistant to treatment with antibiotics. Neosporin may help with dry skin, but only due to its inactive ingredients. Plain skin moisturizers are a much more appropriate choice.