How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Polymyxin B sulfate - bacitracin zinc contains a combination of antibiotics used to treat certain types of infections caused by bacteria. The topical ointment can be used to treat certain skin infections such as infected wounds, burns, skin grafts, boils, and acne. The eye ointment is used to treat some types of eye infections such as conjunctivitis. All preparations work by killing the bacteria that cause these infections.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are using this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each gram of the ointment contains polymyxin B (as sulfate) 10,000 units and bacitracin (as zinc) 500 units topical ointment.

How should I use this medication?

Topical ointment: Apply 1 to 3 times a day to the affected area. Cover with a dressing or leave exposed as directed by your doctor. Do not use the ointment in the eyes.

Eye ointment: Apply 4 times a day or more frequently, as directed by your doctor. It may be applied to the outside of the eyelid or a ribbon of ointment may be placed inside the lower conjunctival sac (inside of the eyelid).

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, apply it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature, and keep it out of the reach of children.

This medication is available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms listed here. The forms available for the specific brand you have searched are listed under, "What form(s) does this medication come in?"

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to polymyxin B sulfate, bacitracin zinc, or any ingredients of the medication.

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who uses this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people using this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • blurred vision (usually occurs after the ophthalmic ointment is applied and lasts for a few minutes)
  • irritation of the area where the ointment is applied

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of a severe allergic reaction such as severe rash or hives; difficulty breathing; or swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue, or throat

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Eye infections: If eye irritation occurs or if the eye infection worsens or has not started to improve in 2 days, call your doctor immediately.

Overgrowth of organisms: Prolonged use of this medication may cause an overgrowth of organisms that this medication does not effectively kill. If your symptoms worsen or do not improve, call your doctor as soon as possible.

Pregnancy: It is not clear what effects polymyxin B sulfate - bacitracin zinc may have in pregnant women. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking this medication. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if polymyxin B sulfate - bacitracin zinc passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Seniors: The maximum dose should be reduced for seniors with decreased kidney function.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.