We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Antibiotic Ointment?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Antibiotic ointment is a type of topical ointment, typically in an oil base, applied to the skin to kill bacteria and prevent infection. It is intended for use on minor cuts, burns, or abrasions, and should not be applied to puncture wounds, animal bites, or severe burns. The use of this ointment can be an effective part of wound care, along with regularly cleansing the wound, and observing it to make sure it is healing properly.

Some people also choose to use antibiotic ointment on a new tattoo, though some tattoo artists advise against this for various reasons. In general, this ointment is intended to speed healing and prevent infection. If a cut or wound appears infected, it is important to go to a doctor to obtain oral antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading.

Active ingredients in antibiotics typically include bacitracin, neomycin sulfate, and polymyxin, among others. Antibiotic ointment should be applied when the wound is clean and dry; be sure to thoroughly remove any dirt from a wound with gentle soap, lukewarm water, and a washcloth before applying ointment. It should then be covered with a bandage. This is because the oil base of the ointment is intended to prevent it from absorbing into the skin, which means it could easily be wiped off if it is not covered. In addition, the oil base could potentially stain clothing or other fabrics.

Most antibiotic ointments come in cream forms as well, and these may be better able to absorb into the skin. In addition, sometimes these cream forms can contain extra ingredients to help with pain relief, which may be especially beneficial for burns. These ointments and creams can be found in most drugstores, grocery stores, and discount stores. They are typically quite inexpensive, and it is a good idea to keep a supply on hand to have it ready when injuries occur.

This type of topical ointment should generally not be used for more than one week; if the wound is not healing after that amount of time, it is necessary to visit a doctor. Unless specifically prescribed by a veterinarian, antibiotic ointment for human use should not be applied to animals. In addition, some people use ointment to spot-treat blemishes. Although this can be effective, it is best not to use it over the entire face, because the oil base can quickly clog pores and end up worsening the problem or causing new ones.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By honeysuckle — On Apr 17, 2011

@seekinfo2 - I've found that triple antibiotic ointment is very effective also. It might not have the blend of 4 antibiotics that Neosporin does, but it works just as well. It contains bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B. My cuts heal just as quickly and the anti-scarring properties are the same.

By seekinfo2 — On Apr 14, 2011

I know that I couldn't function without carrying antibiotic ointment around with me -- my two boys get so many scrapes and bumps that I go through that stuff like crazy.

I really like Neosporin the best because it is a mixture of 4 different kinds of antibiotics. It is very effective on cuts and wounds by preventing infection, but of course I'll take whatever I can get in a pinch. I just really like that one because of how it can minimize scars -- I haven't really found another antibiotic cream that works like that, has anybody else?

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.