Research links medical creams and ointments superbugs

Hand cream
Research says overuse of antibiotic creams and ointments link to superbug. Source: Pixabay

The risk of antibiotic overuse for a common virus or cold is known, however that awareness is often overlooked for creams and ointments.

Antibiotic creams and ointments are emerging as major concern in the war against antibiotic resistance. Research indicates that an overuse of antibiotic creams and ointments is linked to the superbug infection. 

Many creams on the market contain antibiotics with some of the most common being, Bactroban, commonly used to treat Staph infections on the skin, and Fucidin, which is often used to treat skin infections caused by burns.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when an antibiotic loses its ability to successfully kill bacteria. Once the antibiotic is no longer effective, the bacteria increases its resistance and multiplies. 

Patients with infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria are at a higher risk of worsening. 

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Specialist dermatologist Dr Ritu Gupta, from Platinum Dermatology in Sydney said doctors need to be wary of overprescribing antibiotic creams. 

“When people think about antibiotics they usually imagine swallowing a pill or having an injection. They forget that antibiotics also come in creams and ointments for use on the skin.”

“We should only be prescribing topical and oral antibiotics when and if they are required. So if you have a fit and healthy person and a clean site then it doesn’t necessarily need an antibiotic or an antibiotic ointment,” Dr Gupta said.

Read more: Study finds ‘wait and see’ approach kills need for antibiotics

Dr Hartley Atkinson, Managing Director of AFT Pharmaceuticals said there needs to be more community awareness on the issue. 

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“There’s no doubt that antibiotic creams and ointments are flying under the radar when it comes to educating both medical practitioners and the community about correct use,” Dr Atkinson said.

Antibiotics resistance is becoming an issue around the world.

Each year more than 2 million Americans become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

Meanwhile, a recent study found that doctors in Australia are drastically overprescribing antibiotics to patients.

Read more: Antibiotic overuse causing staph infection rate to rise

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Medical health practitioners are advising consumers to reduce the use of topical antibiotics by preventing infection with simple remedies. 

AFT Pharmaceuticals have provided four expert tips to care for wounds without antibiotics.

1. Always wash your hands before touching the wound and surrounding area.
2. Use a saline solution to gently clean the area – this can be made at home by boiling a cup of water and adding half a teaspoon of household salt. Let it cool in a clean bottle or glass in the fridge before applying. Keep the solution for a maximum of 24 hours. Throw away any unused solution, wash the container, and make a new solution.
3. Apply an antibacterial substance to the wound such as Crystaderm First Aid Cream that offers effective protection against skin infection, with no known risk of bacterial resistance.
4. Dress the wound appropriately and monitor daily for signs of infection

Antibiotic Global Awareness Weeks runs in November each year.

Read more: New research says ‘don’t finish your antibiotics’

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think we overuse antibiotics?