Antibiotic ointments for the skin, such as Neosporin, can be toxic to the eyes and should not be used to treat eye wounds or scratches. However, neosporine is also available as an antibiotic eye ointment, which is different from topical creams for the skin and is usually used for eye infections.
Knowing the difference between topical creams that can be applied to the skin and topical creams that are safe for the eyes will help you choose the right eye-friendly topical antibiotic treatment for your needs.
What is Neosporine Eye Treatment?
Neosporin is a widely used over-the-counter antibiotic ointment for minor cuts, burns, and scrapes on the skin to prevent infection.
Neosporin preparations designed for eye use are known by different names: they are called Polysporin eye ointment and Polytrim eye drops. They are often used to treat eye infections.
The antibacterial (bactericidal) action of Polysporin Eye Ointment is a combination of three antibiotics that stop the growth of bacteria – Neomycin, Polymyxin B Sulfate and Bacitracin Zinc.
Polytrim eye drops (eye drops), on the other hand, are a solution consisting of neomycin, polymyxin B sulfate, and gramicidin.
Both eye ointments and solutions are used topically to treat infections of the eye surface caused by certain bacteria.
The infection affects the outer eye and the so-called appendages of the eye, including the tear glands (lacrimal glands), the muscles that control the eyeball and eyelids (extraocular muscles), the eyelashes and eyebrows, and the mucous membranes that cover the eye. The front of the eye and the inside of the eyelid (conjunctiva).
The eyes can become infected with bacteria, fungi or viruses. Doorknobs, shopping carts, chair armrests, school desks, and the hands of people with eye infections are all possible sources.
There are ways to reduce your risk of eye infections.
- Washing your hands: Frequent hand washing with soap and water can stop germs from entering your eyes and prevent the spread of germs.
- Don’t rub your eyes: Even if it’s itchy, don’t rub your eyes with your hands. Use a soft towel to gently clean your eyes, but do not reuse or allow others to use.
- If you have an infection, wash your sheets and towels: this will help stop the spread of the virus in your household.
- Proper cleaning of contact lenses and contact lens cases: Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for proper contact lens care.
Your healthcare provider will decide whether eye ointment or solution is the most effective way to treat your eye infection.
While a GP can prescribe eye ointments and drops, it’s best to be cautious and see an eye doctor, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist, as certain infections can lead to more serious eye problems.
Polysporin and Polytrim ophthalmic treatments are used to treat a variety of eye infections, including the following.
- Bacterial conjunctivitis: Also known as pink eye, this infection is caused by bacteria and can cause red, sore, and thick, thick pus in the eye. This condition is very contagious.
- Bacterial keratitis: This infection occurs when the cornea – the clear dome-shaped window in front of your eyes – becomes infected.Usually caused by bacteria Staphylococcus aureus or Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the infection can develop rapidly.Bacterial keratitis can cause vision loss if left untreated
- Keratoconjunctivitis: The infection’s name aptly describes its symptoms — when someone has both keratitis and conjunctivitis.
- Blepharitis: This infection causes inflammation of the eyelids. This is common, especially for people with oily skin, dandruff or rosacea. In people with blepharitis, the eyelids may look swollen or feel sore or burning. It may also produce flakes or oily particles (scabs) at the base of the lashes.
- Blepharitis: This infection is a combination of blepharitis and conjunctivitis. It causes inflammation of the eyelid margin and surrounding conjunctiva. If blepharitis is not treated in its early stages, the inflammation can progress to affect the nearby conjunctiva, resulting in blepharitis.
Can you treat a stye with Neosporin?
A stye, also known as a stye, is a small red bump that grows from the base of the eyelashes or under the eyelid. Most styes are caused by bacterial infections. In the early stages of a stye, the eyelids are red and tender, and the eyes may feel sore and itchy.
There are two styles.
- External barley stye: This type of stye starts at the base of the eyelashes and looks like a pimple. Most are caused by an infection of the hair follicle.
- Internal stye: This type of stye is located on the inside of the eyelid and is mainly caused by infection of the oil-producing glands of the eyelid.
A similar condition, called a chalazion, is a lump on the eyelid that may initially be an internal stye. Although a stye is painful, a chalazion is usually not painful, which is why it may not be obvious at first. However, if a chalazion becomes large, the eye can become red and swollen, and the growth can compress the eye and cause blurred vision.
Do not squeeze or try to pop the stye or chalazion, as doing so can spread the infection. Also, don’t wear makeup or contact lenses when you have a stye.
A stye can be treated in a number of ways, including:
- hot compress
- Surgery to drain the area, usually in a doctor’s office using local anesthesia
- Eye antibiotics such as Polysporin and Polytrim eye treatments may be prescribed
Simple ways to avoid getting a stye
how to apply
How to use eye ointment
Polysporin eye ointment is prescribed in 1/8 oz. (3.5 g) tube with ophthalmic tip. Generally, the ointment should be applied every three to four hours for seven to ten days, depending on the severity of the infection. Do not use it more or less or more often than prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Steps to apply eye ointment:
- Wash hands with soap and water.
- Use a mirror so you can see your eyes.
- Hold the tube as close to your eye as possible without touching your eye.
- Gently pull the lower eyelid down to create a small pocket.
- Put a small amount of ointment (about ½ inch strip) into the pocket between the lower lid and the eye. If your healthcare provider specifies a different amount, use the amount indicated by your healthcare provider.
- After applying the ointment, gently close your eyes for one to two minutes to allow the ointment to be absorbed.
- Gently wipe excess ointment from eyelids and lashes with a clean tissue.
- Wash your hands again to prevent the retention and spread of germs.
Remember these precautions to avoid eye injury or leave eye ointment or eye drops unsterilized:
- Do not touch the tip of the tube to your eyes, eyelids, fingers or any other surface
- Do not let other people use your ointment as it can spread your infection
- Close the lid immediately after applying the ointment
If you miss a dose, use the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dose schedule. Do not use a double dose to make up for a missed dose.
Tips for a more stable hand
- Hold the tube between your thumb and index finger
- Place the tube as close to the eyelid as possible without touching it
- rest the remaining fingers of that hand against the cheek or nose
If the ointment is used incorrectly, it can become contaminated with bacteria, which can cause serious eye damage and vision loss.
How to use eye drops
Polytrim ophthalmic solution is prescribed in a 10 mL plastic dispenser bottle. Apply one or two drops to the affected eye every four hours for seven to ten days.
Dosage may vary by infection. In severe infections, the dose may be increased to two drops per hour.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for your individual needs. Store eye drops at 59° to 77°F (15° to 25°C) and protect the bottle from light.
Use these medicines only for your eyes. Do not get the ointment or solution into your nose or mouth, and do not swallow it.
Call your healthcare provider right away for a solution or ointment if you experience any of the following symptoms or other unusual problems:
- eye pain
- irritation, burning, itching, swelling, or redness of the eyes or lids
- Deterioration of eye discharge
- red or scaly patches around the eyes or lids
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or calves
- tightness in the chest
Eye ointment can cause temporary blurred vision. If this happens to you, do not drive the vehicle, operate machinery or do any dangerous activity.
If you start to drain pus, inflammation, or pain, it may mean that you have developed a bacterial resistance to the eye ointment or solution. Stop using eye ointment or eye drops immediately and consult your healthcare provider.
Some people have experienced bacterial keratitis while using topical ophthalmic products, including ointments and eye drops, in contaminated multi-dose containers.
This is most common in patients who already have corneal disease or destruction of the tissues of the eye (the epithelial surface of the eye).
If you are taking Polysporin eye ointment, tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist if you are already taking zinc and any prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking.
Let your healthcare provider know if you have or have had hearing problems or kidney disease.
Allergic cross-reactions may occur, which may prevent the use of any or all of the following antibiotics to treat future infections. For ointments and eye drops, if you are allergic to any of the ingredients listed, plus:
Topical antibiotics, especially neomycin sulfate, may cause skin irritation, leading to itching, redness, and swelling of the conjunctiva and eyelids. Another allergic reaction is the inability to heal.
During long-term use of eye ointment or solution, it is important to check regularly for these signs of sensitization and notify your healthcare provider and discontinue use of the product if they appear.
Symptoms usually subside quickly after you stop using eye ointment or eye drops.
As with other antibiotic preparations, prolonged use of Polysporin eye ointment may lead to the overgrowth of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, such as fungi, which can lead to fungal infections.
Superinfection sometimes occurs, a second infection that develops resistance to the treatment used to fight the first infection. If this happens, your healthcare provider will prescribe other medicines.
Tell your healthcare provider if you are planning to become pregnant or have become pregnant.
Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted on neomycin sulfate, polymyxin B sulfate, or bacitracin, so it is not known whether polysporine ophthalmic ointment will cause fetal harm.
It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. However, because many medicines are excreted in breast milk, be cautious and ask your healthcare provider if it is safe to use Polysporin eye ointment while you are breastfeeding.
Safety and efficacy in pediatric patients have not been established. As with all medicines, it is important to keep all containers out of the sight and reach of children.
It is safe and healthy to use ointments or eye drops specially formulated to treat the eyes. Your healthcare provider will know which one is best for your individual needs.
Remember not to put creams or ointments made for the skin in your eyes. Ophthalmic solutions and ointments are formulated to help your eyes heal and are the best choice for your eye care.