Should I Use Neosporin on My Cut?

CHICAGO - JUNE 26: Pfizer's Neosporin is displayed on a shelf at a Walgreens store June 26, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Question: Should I Use Neosporin on My Cut?

Neosporin, also known as triple antibiotic ointment, is a cream containing three antibiotics: neomycin, bacitracin and polymyxin. Triple antibiotic ointment is used on minor cuts and abrasions to prevent infection and encourage healing. Some folks are big believers of triple antibiotic ointments while others feel they are unnecessary. So, you ask, what's the deal?

Answer: Neosporin or triple antibiotic ointment is not necessary for a minor wound to heal correctly. Plus, neomycin, one of the three antibiotics, causes allergic reactions in some people.

Treating a minor cut or scratch is mostly about keeping it clean, but the only thing you really need to clean it with is water. Regular tap water works just fine. If there's a possibility it could get dirty, cover it with an adhesive bandage (Band-Aid or some other brand). Most importantly, as a cut is healing, rinse it with tap water whenever it gets dirty.

Using triple antibiotic ointment could help some abrasions (scratches) heal a little quicker and probably with less pain at first, but keeping the dressing fresh and moist is more work than the average scratch is worth. Putting triple antibiotic ointment on a wound could also lead to redness, itching and burning -- what doctors call allergic contact dermatitis -- which looks a lot like an infection.

Walk through this with me. You get a cut and clean it appropriately, then cover it with triple antibiotic ointment. After a day or so, the wound and the surrounding skin get painful and red. Thinking your cut is infected you put more triple antibiotic ointment on it, which makes the dermatitis worse.

A minor wound just isn't worth the headache.

If you have a cut and you want to know what to do with it, first figure out if you need stitches, then learn how to dress a wound

Trust your body to heal the way it's supposed to. If you have some sort of medical condition that keeps your body from healing correctly, then talk to your doctor about the best way for you to handle minor cuts and scratches.

Continue Reading