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What's the difference between Neosporin vs. Polysporin?

When should you use Neosporin vs. Polysporin on your skin?

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Neosporin and Polysporin are two topical ointments that may seem interchangeable, however there is one key difference that separates the two. The main difference is the Neosporin ointment contains Neomycin, which is an aminoglycoside antibiotic found in many other topical medications such as creams, ointments, and eyedrops.

However, because Neomycin can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, dermotologists and many plastic surgeons do not want their patients using Neosporin, and instead recommend Polysporin to heal up cuts and scars. Note: many dermotologists will just recommend Bacitracin (with Zinc) since Bacitracin is least likely to cause any allergic reactions as compared to Polysporin and Neosporin.  But because Neosporin combines three antibiotics, instead of only two in Polysporin, you may treat or prevent a wider range of bacterial infections by using Neosporin.

See the differences between the two below.

Neosporin Original Active Ingredients:
- Polymyxin B Sulfate
- Bacitracin Zinc
- Neomycin

Polysporin Ointment Active Ingredients:
- Polymyxin B Sulfate
- Bacitracin Zinc

How would you know when to use polysporin or neosporin


I'm not sure what the differences are. However; I have heard doctors of several different specialties specifically tell their patients (including me) NOT to use Neosporin. They have recommended mostly Bacitracin only. In a couple of cases, they recommended Polysporin.

I am only speculating, but I am guessing that there is greater risk of an allergic reaction to neomycin which is in Neosporin, than the ingredients in Polysporin or Bacitracin only.


Neosporin is a triple antibiotic with broad-spectrum coverage including gram-negative bacteria.

Polysporin is more narrow spectrum.

Is there a capsule form of bacitracin

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