What Is Mafenide?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Mafenide is a medication used to treat certain bacterial and fungal infections. Although it is prescribed for infections, it is not an antibiotic, but rather it is a sulfa medicine. This type of medicine works by preventing the bacteria or fungal spores from reproducing and spreading. Mafenide may also be prescribed to prevent these infections, particularly in patients who have suffered from severe burns. Taking this preventative measure may help accelerate wound healing, as well as reduce the risk of an infection spreading to the blood and then to the rest of the body.

Swollen glands, unusual bleeding and fever are among the more serious side effects of mafenide.
Swollen glands, unusual bleeding and fever are among the more serious side effects of mafenide.

This drug is only available in the form of a cream or solution to spread on the affected skin. Before applying mafenide, the doctor will remove any severely burned skin or dead skin, and cleanse the area thoroughly. Those using the solution will wet the bandage with it, and then apply the bandage to the skin.

The cream should be applied while wearing a sterile glove. It should be gently spread in a very thin layer over the entire burned area, and then covered with a bandage, unless otherwise directed by a doctor. A typical dosage schedule of mafenide cream is one to two times daily, while those using the solution will typically apply it to the bandage every four to eight hours. Mafenide is not recommended for use by children younger than three months of age.

Some side effects may occur with the use of mafenide, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become severe. Patients may notice a burning feeling or general pain on the area of skin being treated. The skin may also become unusually soft, warm, or red. Swelling, flushing, and blisters may also occur, as well as raised, red areas on the throat, lips, or tongue.

More serious side effects require a doctor's urgent care, including itching, problems breathing, or wheezing. Patients may also rarely experience nausea, drowsiness, and fast, deep breathing. Oozing or bleeding of the skin, dark urine, and black, tarry stools may also occur. Other serious side effects may include fever, chills, and swollen glands, along with unusual bleeding or bruising, jaundice, and excessive fatigue.

Before using mafenide to treat an infection, patients should disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. It may be contraindicated for use by those with lung problems, kidney problems, or a blood disease. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss the potential risks with their doctors.

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