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What Is Fusidic Acid Cream?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 12, 2024
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Fusidic acid cream is a topical medication used by patients with skin infections. It kills bacteria on the skin and may be used in combination with other drugs in some cases. Conditions treatable with this cream can include infected cuts, folliculitis, and impetigo. Availability depends on the region; in some places it can only be obtained by prescription, while in others it is an over the counter medication people can buy without a note from a medical practitioner.

To use this cream, patients gently wash with mild soap and warm water and pat the site dry before applying the medication, three to four times a day. A dressing may be necessary for a seeping wound or one in a location that might be irritated by clothing, in which case three doses are typically sufficient. The patient needs to keep using the drug for the entire course of therapy to kill all the bacteria present. Even as the wound starts to heal, some organisms may survive and could start growing again.

Patients may receive a compounded medication with hydrocortisone. This steroid can reduce inflammation, which limits swelling, redness, and irritation around the site of the infection. While the infection is healing, it is important to avoid touching it and then handling other areas of the skin, because bacteria may be transferred and spread. Handling it can also promote scarring, which may be a problem in visible areas like the face.

Some patients notice tingling and mild irritation when they apply fusidic acid cream. These reactions are not abnormal, and should resolve as the medication absorbs. Severe pain or irritation, significant swelling, or whole-body reactions like hives are a cause for concern. They may indicate that the patient is allergic to something in the medication, and should stop taking it. People who experience severe side effects can discuss them to determine if they should switch medications and consider alternatives in the future as well.

One risk with antibiotics like fusidic acid is the development of resistance. If this medication is used too much, the patient can contribute to the growth of bacteria that are less vulnerable to it, which makes future infections harder to treat. It is advisable to only use this drug when specifically advised to do so, and to complete the course of therapy as directed. Unused fusidic acid cream can be discarded at the end of the treatment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By donasmrs — On May 12, 2013

I was prescribed fusidic acid cream for an abscess. I was shocked at first because the idea of putting cream on an open wound sounded crazy. But my doctor said it will be fine and that I can use a gauze to keep things clean. Applying the cream on gauze and then putting that on the abscess really worked. It was draining so I had to change the gauze several times a day but the cream helped it heal faster.

The only downside is that it makes the wound itchy like the article said. It can be tough to keep your hands off of it but I was so scared of making things worse that I managed.

By serenesurface — On May 11, 2013

@ddljohn-- My friend is using it for acne but she bought hers over-the-counter. I think that it is sometimes prescribed for acne and rosacea but it must be given as a temporary treatment. Antibiotics cannot be used for the long term and it will become ineffective anyway.

I told my friend not to use it too much because the bacteria will become tolerant to it and it won't work eventually. But she doesn't care, she uses it as a spot treatment when she has acne.

By ddljohn — On May 11, 2013

Can fusidic acid cream be used for acne?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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