Mupirocin antibiotic ointment, available as the brand Bactroban, is used for healing bacterial skin infections. Although a certain species of bacteria has a role in acne, particularly in regard to inflammation, Bactroban ointment is not indicated for treating pimples. Consult a qualified health-care provider about preferred topical solutions for pimples and acne treatment.
Bactroban ointment reduces levels of bacteria on the skin by inhibiting bacterial protein synthesis. It doesn't work for treating skin infections caused by viruses or fungi. Bactroban ointment is effective against a wide range of gram-positive bacteria and certain gram-negative bacteria. Its effects on certain species of staphylococcus and streptococcus bacteria make it useful for treating impetigo and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA, according to U.S. National Library of Medicine website DailyMed.
Pimples and Acne
Pimples typically develop when your body overproduces skin oil, or sebum. This oil, along with dead skin cells, clogs pores. The clog traps bacteria, including Propionibacterium acnes, the species connected with acne. Because P. acnes is an anaerobic bacterium, it thrives in this oxygen-deprived environment, where it multiplies and causes inflammation.
Bactroban and P. Acnes
P. acnes is part of normal skin flora, or the community of bacteria that normally lives on the skin. It generally does not create problems except in the particular circumstances involving pimples. Applying topical antibiotics or taking oral antibiotics are some of the most effective treatments for acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. However, while mupirocin is effective against many types of bacteria, it is not effective at eliminating bacteria that are part of normal skin flora, explains the 2006 book "Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics."
While Bactroban ointment will not help treat your pimples, several other topical treatments have antibiotic activity and can heal mild to moderately severe inflammatory acne. If you are experiencing occasional pimples or only a small number of them, benzoyl peroxide might be your best option. This substance is a common ingredient in over-the-counter medications for treating pimples and acne. For more bothersome cases of acne, prescription topical antibiotics include azelaic acid, clindamycin, erythromycin and sodium sulfacetamide. Ask your doctor whether any of these treatments are right for you.
- Medline Plus: Mupirocin
- DailyMed: Bactroban (Mupirocin) Ointment
- American Academy of Dermatology: Three Factors Complicate Treatment of Acne
- Laser and IPL Technology in Dermatology and Aesthetic Medicine; Christian Raulin and Syrus Karsai
- Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics; Louis Sanford Goodman, et al.
- Healthcare South: Topical Treatment
- Teens Health: Why Do I Get Acne?
- American Academy of Dermatology: Prescription Medications for Treating Acne