Mupirocin Topical Cream | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

mupirocin, Topical cream

All Brands

  • Bactroban
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Highlights for mupirocin

Topical cream
1

Mupirocin comes in the form of a cream or ointment you apply to your skin. It also comes in an ointment you apply to the inside of your nose.

2

Mupirocin topical cream is used to treat secondary infections in skin lesions that occurred due to trauma. The secondary infections are caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. 

3

Mupirocin topical cream is available as the brand-name drug Bactroban. It’s also available as a generic drug.

4

The more common side effects of this drug can include headache or nausea. They can also include a rash, burning, inflammation, or itching of the treated skin.

5

In some cases, mupirocin can cause serious side effects. These include allergic reactions.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Avoid contact with your eyes

Be careful not to get this drug in your eyes. If it comes into contact with your eyes, rinse your eyes well with water.

Allergic reactions

Stop using this drug and call your doctor if you have an allergic reaction or severe irritation on your skin where you apply the cream. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include trouble breathing or swallowing, shortness of breath, swelling of your throat or tongue, itching, or a body rash. Your doctor may give you a different treatment for your infection.

Length of treatment

Using this drug for a long time can cause microscopic organisms, such as bacteria or fungi, to overgrow. You should only use this drug for as long as your doctor recommends.

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea

Almost all antibiotics, including mupirocin, can cause diarrhea due to an infection. This infection can cause mild diarrhea or severe inflammation of your colon. Severe reactions can be fatal (cause death). Tell your doctor if you have diarrhea. If you have this infection, you’ll need to stop taking mupirocin and get treatment.

What is mupirocin ?

Mupirocin is a prescription drug. It’s available as a topical cream, topical ointment, and nasal ointment. 

Mupirocin cream is available as the brand-name drug Bactroban. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. 

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it's used

Mupirocin skin cream is used to treat secondary skin infections in skin lesions that occurred due to trauma. The infections are caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes.

How it works

Mupirocin belongs to a class of drugs called topical antibacterials. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.

More Details

How it works

Mupirocin belongs to a class of drugs called topical antibacterials. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Mupirocin works to kill bacteria that are causing your infection. These include strains of Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Staphylococcus epidermidis. Mupirocin stops the bacteria from multiplying.

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mupirocin Side Effects

Topical cream

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects of mupirocin topical cream can include:

  • headache

  • nausea

  • rash, inflammation, burning, or itching of the treated skin

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Diarrhea that doesn’t go away. The diarrhea may be due to an infection.

Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug doesn’t cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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mupirocin May Interact with Other Medications

Topical cream

An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. To help prevent interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. 

To find out how mupirocin might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Mupirocin warnings
Pregnant women
Pregnant women

Mupirocin is a category B pregnancy drug. That means two things: 

  1. Studies of the drug in pregnant animals have not shown a risk to the fetus.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in pregnant women to show if the drug poses a risk to the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should be used only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

breast-feeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It’s not known whether mupirocin passes into breast milk or causes side effects in a child who is breastfed. 

Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

children
For children

Mupirocin topical cream hasn’t been studied in children younger than 3 months.

Contact with drug
Contact with drug

This drug can be transferred to other people if they touch your treated skin. Talk to your doctor about what you should do to prevent this from happening. One way to prevent drug transfer is to cover the treated area with a gauze dressing.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug. 

If the treated skin doesn’t look better after 3–5 days, call your doctor.

Allergies
Allergies

Mupirocin can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing or swallowing
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • itching
  • body rash
  • chest tightness
  • skin on your face or body that’s pale or flushed (warm and red)
  • a panic attack or feeling that bad things are going to happen 

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take mupirocin (Dosage)

Topical cream

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on: 

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Secondary bacterial infections

Generic: mupirocin

Form: Topical cream
Strengths: 2%

Brand: Bactroban

Form: Topical cream
Strengths: 2%
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Typical starting dosage: Apply a small amount of the cream to the infected area of your skin three times per day for 10 days. Only apply this drug to your skin. Do not use the topical cream in your nose. If you're treating an infection in your nose, you should use a nasal ointment instead.

Child dosage (ages 3 months to 17 years)

Typical starting dosage: Apply a small amount of the cream to the infected area of your skin three times per day for 10 days. Only apply this drug to your skin. Do not use the topical cream in your nose. If you're treating an infection in your nose, you should use a nasal ointment instead.

Child dosage (ages 0–2 months)

This medication hasn’t been studied in children younger than 3 months of age.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

Your infection may not improve. It may even get worse.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. The bacteria that this drug is treating may also develop resistance. This means that your medication will no longer work to kill the bacteria. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be at the site of infection at all times.

If you take too much

The bacteria this drug is treating may develop resistance. This means that your medication will no longer work to kill the bacteria. If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. If you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your infection should start to get better within 3–5 days of using this drug.

Mupirocin is used for short-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking mupirocin
timing
Apply the drug three times per day, about every 8 hours
storage
Store this drug carefully
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medication is refillable
A prescription for this medication is refillable
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Travel
Travel
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not usually stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead
Hidden costs
Hidden costs
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prior authorization
Insurance
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Store this drug carefully

  • Store mupirocin topical cream at or below room temperature. Keep it between 32°F and 77°F (0°C and 25°C). Don’t freeze it.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Hidden costs

You may need to buy gauze dressings to cover the area where you applied the mupirocin cream.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does mupirocin Cost?

Topical cream

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Lowest price for mupirocin

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for mupirocin on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for mupirocin on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

  • GlaxoSmithKline. (2015, March). Bactroban® cream – mupirocin calcium cream, 2% for dermatologic use [package insert]. Research Triangle Park, NC.
  • GlaxoSmithKline. (2015, March). Bactroban® ointment – mupirocin ointment, 2% for dermatologic use [package insert]. Research Triangle Park, NC.
  • GlaxoSmithKline. (2015, May). Bactroban® (mupirocin calcium) nasal ointment [package insert]. Research Triangle Park, NC.

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on February 3, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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