Mupirocin Nasal Ointment

MRSA colonies on blood agar plate
MRSA colonies on blood agar plate. By R Parulan Jr. / Getty Images

What is Mupirocin Nasal Ointment?

Mupirocin ointment (also called Bactroban or Mupirocin Calcium) is an antibiotic. It is applied inside of the nostrils to kill certain strains of a bacterium called staphylococcus aureus, including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This strain of bacteria tends to colonize inside the nostrils and nasal passageways. This reservoir of germs inside the nose can possibly cause problems such as chronic rhinosinusitis or can lead to more serious infections when it is spread to other people or to other parts of the body.

You can have this bacteria inside of your nose even though you do not notice any symptoms or feel sick, however, you can spread the bacteria to other people. People who have staphyloccocus aureus in their nostrils or nasal passageways but do not have symptoms are called carriers. To prevent the spread of the bacteria, nasal Mupirocin is sometimes given to healthcare workers or individuals who are planning on undergoing surgery.

How is Mupirocin Nasal Ointment Used?

In the United States Mupirocin ointment is available only by prescription. You should use mupirocin exactly as directed. Missing too many doses or stopping treatment early can lead to the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Mupirocin ointment is applied to the nostrils, usually for 5 days. A typical dose for adults and children over 12 years old is to apply half a tube of ointment to the nostrils every 12 hours. After applying the ointment to the inside of the nares use your fingers to massage your nostrils together for about one minute.

Massaging the nostrils helps to evenly distribute the ointment. Follow your doctor's instructions for dosing information in children under 12.

You should avoid getting Mupirocin ointment in your eyes or mouth.

Side Effects

Studies have shown that when used nasally Mupirocin ointment is well tolerated in most individuals and rarely causes side effects, however, the following side effects are possible when using this medication: stinging, itching, burning or tingling, soreness, facial pain, post nasal drip, sinusitis, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, headaches, nausea, or an altered sense of taste.

All antibiotics can cause Clostridium Deficile -associated diarrhea. It is possible to develop Clostridium Deficile-associated diarrhea when using Mupirocin ointment nasally if significant amounts of Mupirocin are absorbed into the blood stream.

All medications carry the risk of an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions range in severity from mild to life threatening. You should seek emergency medical treatment if you experience signs or symptoms of a life threatening allergic reaction after using mupirocin including face swelling, swelling of the mouth or lips, drooling, difficulty talking, difficulty swallowing, breathing difficulties including wheezing.

Should You Use Mupirocin Nasal Ointment?

Most healthy adults can safely use Mupirocin ointment, however, you should not use mupirocin if you have ever had a reaction to a medication containing Mupirocin (bactroban). You should talk to your doctor before using mupirocin ointment if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Studies have shown the risk of mupirocin ointment interacting with other medications to be very small, however, you should inform your doctor and pharmacist of any other medications you are taking and check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting new medications while using mupirocin ointment.


ATS Journals. Treatment Options for Chronic Rhinosinusitis. Accessed: March 20, 2015 from

Medscape. Mupirocin (Bactroban). Accessed: March 20, 2015 from Bactroban Nasal (mupirocin calcium). Accessed: March 20, 2015 from