What Is Polysporin Ointment?

Polysporin is a brand name for a medicated ointment known as bacitracin or polymyxin. Although these medications are available in other forms, their most common use requires them to be in ointment form for application on the skin.

Polysporin ointment has several indicated uses, not only for people but also some animals.


The primary use for Polysporin ointment is to prevent or treat infection in a minor skin wound. Polysporin ointment is a type of antibiotic ointment. The way that this ointment works is by killing bacteria or inhibiting the growth of bacteria in order to stop a bacterial infection or prevent one from occurring. Polysporin ointment is available as a prescription or over the counter for human use, and is also available for use on some pets.


Do not use Polysporin ointment if you are or may be allergic to any of the ingredients. There are also some medical conditions that can interact with the ingredients. Consult a doctor before applying Polysporin ointment if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, planning to become pregnant, taking prescription medications or dietary supplements or if you have any food, medicine or substance allergies. The risk of interaction with other medications is low because the ointment is not typically absorbed into the blood, but should still be considered.


Wash the area completely and allow it to dry. Apply the Polysporin ointment to the affected area using a cotton swab. Rub the ointment gently using the cotton swab until it is distributed evenly over the affected area. Cover the area with a sterile bandage. Make sure to wash your hands if any Polysporin ointment gets on your hands. Use the ointment every day at approximately the same time. Follow any instructions from your physician or the drug information on the ointment packaging.

Side Effects

While side effects with any medication is possible, no common side effects have been reported in the use of Polysporin ointment. However, severe side effects can occur in reaction to Polysporin ointment use. If a rash, itching, hives, breathing difficulty, chest tightness, mouth swelling, face swelling, redness, burning or swelling occurs, you may be experiencing a reaction to the Polysporin ointment. Seek medical attention immediately if you are having an allergic reaction to this medication.


Polysporin ointment is designed to treat superficial cuts and wounds and to prevent infection from occurring. Once infection has occurred, the Polysporin may not be effective enough to reduce it. Consult a physician if your wound has progressed to the point of infection to determine whether or not Polysporin is still the best course of action.