Tubes of Neosporin

Does a bad reaction hurt more when you applied the offending substance deliberately to help with healing? It may not, but certainly the knowledge that the problem might have been avoided can be grating.

That is why many dermatologists now suggest that people avoid using the topical antibiotic neomycin. They have seen severe skin reactions to this compound, and they appear to be more common now than in past decades. This reader found out first-hand how nasty a Neosporin reaction can be.

Neosporin Reaction Became Debilitating:

Q. I am severely allergic to latex, nickel and Neosporin. Now I am off work for two weeks due to a huge ulcerated lesion on my left knuckle.

I had a small paper cut, applied Neosporin and covered the cut with a latex-free bandage. That was a bad idea! I have been to two specialists, who said all I can do is let it heal before I return to work.

A. Neomycin is one of the antibiotics found in Neosporin ointment. Research suggests that one out of ten individuals reacts to neomycin with a nasty rash (Dermatitis, Jan-Feb, 2013).

What to Use Instead:

Some dermatologists now recommend using simple petrolatum on a minor cut to protect it. That avoids contact dermatitis due to an OTC topical antibiotic. Polymyxin and bacitracin, the other ingredients in Neosporin, may also be capable of triggering a reaction (Dermatologic Surgery, Aug., 2013).

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Fleet

    I became allergic to Neosporin in my thirties, after having a severe case of poison ivy & dermatitis that the Dermatologists treated with steroids. I had a shot of steroids in a walk-in clinic, broke out severely in rashes all over, much worse than the poison ivy I went in there for. Then my dermatologist gave me an oral steroid, which again had the same effect. So, I believe, due to my dermatologists continually giving me steroids, which I was clearly allergic to, I somehow developed an allergy for whatever is in Neosporin. The surface proteins on my cells have been changed and now react to this medicine (release histamines to attack), BANDAIDS that are plastic and cheap, severe dust, ink on office paper (and I work 40+ hours weekly w/ paper :/). I now use Aquafor.

  2. Bonnie G.

    I took Neosporin for a minor scratch. I broke out in scaly red bumps on my neck and had to go to my doctor for antibiotics and mupirocin creme. Won’t ever use the product again.

  3. Barbara M
    North Carolina

    I became allergic to Neosporin sometime in my forties. Only recently told to use a salve (such as Neosporin) on incision where small lump was removed. I used Polysporin but after about 5 days, after the stiches were removed, I noticed that there were the same rash like bumps and redness caused by Neosporin. Polysporin contains Bactracin Zinc and Polyyxin B Sulfate. I don’t know which is the culprit or if both. I am using plain petroleum jelly now since the doctor wanted it kept moist and uncovered. It is on my right jawline and difficult for me to see so that it why it took so long to figure out there was a problem and there was no itching as with the Neosporin allergy.

  4. Lea

    Omg…lame… I, too, am allergic to Triple antibiotic ointments. So much itching it’s unbearable. Made my road rash so much worse.

  5. Michelle

    I’m so glad I kept digging online. I thought I was allergic to the type of band-aids and wraps I was using over the years but I think I’ve tried everything by now and it keeps happening! Any small cut and I have a major problem to deal with. THANK YOU ALL for sharing your experiences and helping me figure this out!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Clyde

    I have had reactions for a while and have some scars from the blistering. I thought it was the bandages. I tried fabric and sensitive skin varieties to stop it. It never occured to me that it was the Neosporin. After a minor wart removal on the foot failed to heal for 3.5 months, it still didn’t register that it was the Neosporin. I was told to slather it on, and that’s what I did. Last night, after an epiphony about that evil salve, I ended up calling the tube a bad name and slamming it into the trash. I feel stupid for not having figured this out way sooner.

  7. Marianne R.

    I was treating a deep wound on my leg with neosporin. After several days I started to itch all over my body, and especially around the wound.

    It took a long time and my daughter finally suggesting I might be allergic to neosporin. I am quitting it completely and hoping the itching will stop soon.

    It never occurred to me that I might be allergic to this medicine but I understand now that several people have had bad reactions from it.

  8. Courtney B

    Wow!! I truly thought I was the only one that had this crazy reaction. I mean, Neosporin is a very commonly used, healing topical medicine that is sold everywhere. But I had it all! Yep, the red, itchy, blistering skin, etc… oh and this reaction didn’t begin until I was in my early 30’s (which is even more bizarre).

    Well, I did a some research and found Polysporin. It works great, and I have never had a reaction. I have concluded that this is because it has only 2 out of the 3 ingredients as Neosporin… Polymyxin and Bacitracin antibiotics. There is absolutely no Neomycin in Polysporin. 😊 I hope that helps.

    • Michelle

      My reactions to the Neosporin didn’t start until I was in my 30’s as well.

  9. joann

    Bad rash on tummy from using Neosporin: red bumps, itching. Taking a long time to go away. Hope it does.

  10. LISA

    Having a bad reaction to neosporen, now- it is the lotion, right now, it’s raised rash, red, w/ tiny itchy blisters, on my left shoulder.

    Stupid me, remember breaking out from it, tried it again, thinking the lotion would be better than the gel, not the case.

    If you are allergic, no matter what, throw in garbage…it is a mess right now

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.