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#143247 - 08/08/08 01:52 PM Neosporin antibotic cream?
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3662
Loc: TX
Does neosporin or other antibiotic creams actually reduce infections more than say, washing the wound with soapy water? If possible, scientific studies in you answers would be nice.

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#143248 - 08/08/08 02:13 PM Re: Neosporin antibotic cream? [Re: Blast]
Nishnabotna Offline
Icon of Sin

Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 512
Loc: Nebraska
Their commercials say it does :p
For me the real bennefit of neosporin is just to keep the wound wet. I also think it serves to seal the wound from anything that might blow in.
I have nothing scientific.

#143249 - 08/08/08 02:21 PM Re: Neosporin antibotic cream? [Re: Blast]
rly45acp Offline

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 18
Loc: SW Indiana
Washing with soap will prevent an infection. Once an infection sets in, Neosporin will work well. It also depends on wound size and where it's located. Open wounds in joints should be flushed to prevent very serious infections, and probably should be followed by an oral regimen of Keflex, but I think in the wild if you get a serious break in the skin opening up the knee where you can see the patella, et al, it's best to flush it, apply a loose bandage to prevent more contamination and get yourself to a hospital asap so it can be X-rayed, cleaned/debridement, and sutured.

I carry a small spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide as I've found it actually works faster at eliminating small infections quickly. I may also follow up with a wash of betadine solution. This stops an actual infection in its tracks. Some don't like this method as they say it also kills some good skin cells. I think with a normal immune system, the dead cells will be replaced quickly and it's not a problem.

As for the wound healing time on a cut not infected, but with a topical antibiotic used to PREVENT infection, polysporin actually allows the wound to heal more quickly than neosporin. I have both, but the neosporin I use has a mild painkiller that has proven to be effective. Typically, I don't use it unless conditions indicate the need to lessen risk of infection. I just put a bandaid on it and let it heal itself. After a day or two, I take off the bandaid and let the air dry it out. (Again, under normal conditions -- always keep an eye on a cut until you know it's healing okay when you're afield.)

Also, you should look at the environment you are in. In humid, jungle like conditions, neosporin and other ointments work great, but in certain arid conditions flushing the wound with a betadine rinse is better. A powerdered form of neosporin can also be used for certain types of wounds.

You can't have everything with you, so I now carry the aforementioned small spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a few betadine swabs and a few quart size zip lock bags. I fill the bag with water, clip one bottom corner (small clip) and squeeze the bag to get an effective stream to flush the wound. This whole kit weighs little and takes up a very small space in my FAK.

As with all things we humans do, YMMV.

#143250 - 08/08/08 02:24 PM Re: Neosporin antibotic cream? [Re: Blast]
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 1164
Loc: Channeled Scablands
Unpasturized honey is another item.

Check out this experiment on the effectiveness of several
such creams and honey on lil smokey and his burnt paws.


#143252 - 08/08/08 02:35 PM Re: Neosporin antibotic cream? [Re: ]
Henry_Porter Offline

Registered: 03/24/07
Posts: 111
No scientific evidence for this, but based on a recent discussion here, next time I'm gonna try using Red Feather Butter.

#143256 - 08/08/08 03:00 PM Re: Neosporin antibotic cream? [Re: Blast]
Fitzoid Offline

Registered: 08/23/05
Posts: 289
Loc: WI, MA, and NYC
Ah, Blast, medical advice you get on the internet ain't worth what you pay for it. grin All those posts saying, "My uncle's neighbor's cousin's Aunt Martha swears by using dog spit" aren't likely to be found in the Merck Manual.

First, this message does not in any way constitute medical advice or advocate any course of treatment. (And consult your personal physician if your pieces start turning green or falling off.)

If you search pubmed.gov for "neosporin efficacy," you'll find a mixed bag of results among a total of six papers. If you search for "topical antibiotic efficacy," you'll find 869 papers to add to your summer reading. (Adding the word "wounds" to that reduces the number to a far more manageable 85.)

Here's one quote from Diehr, S., Hamp, A., Jamieson, B., and Mendoza, M. Do topical antibiotics improve wound healing? J Fam Pract. 2007 Feb;56(2):140-4.

A clinical trial compared the efficacy of a cetrimide, bacitracin zinc, and polymyxin B sulfate gel (a combination not available in the US) with placebo and povidone-iodine cream in preventing infections in 177 minor wounds (cuts, grazes, scrapes, and scratches) among children. The antibiotic gel was found to be superior to placebo and equivalent to povidone-iodine, in that it reduced clinical infections from 12.5% to 1.6% (absolute risk reduction [ARR]=0.109; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.011–0.207; NNT=11).2

A double-blind study of 59 patients found Neosporin superior to placebo ointment in the prevention of streptococcal pyoderma for children with minor wounds. Infection occurred in 47% of placebo-treated children compared with 15% treated with the triple-antibiotic ointment (NNT=32; P=.01)

They also note honey works well (and I think it tastes better).

I'll add these studies seem quite inadequate given the very small sample sizes. Clearly, larger studies are called for, and I wonder if too many people seal wounds (e.g., with goop and bandages) before properly cleansing them. Saline solution is your friend. I keep some stream saline nose spray in my pack. (Not the drops or mists.)

Have fun and let's be careful out there.
"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading." Henny Youngman

#143257 - 08/08/08 03:15 PM Re: Neosporin antibotic cream? [Re: Fitzoid]
comms Offline

Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Mesa, AZ
Since seeing My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I have used only Windex for my cuts. Trying to lower my carbon footprint with Simple Green but its not as effective.

Seriously...hydrogen peroxide and iodine is pretty much my life.
Don't just survive. Thrive.

#143263 - 08/08/08 03:36 PM Re: Neosporin antibotic cream? [Re: Blast]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Blast, just a clarifying question--maybe I'm not understanding your question correctly, but I assume that you mean comparing "washing wound with soap and water then using nothing" vs "washing with soap and water then using antibiotic ointment". Or do you actually mean "washing wound with soap and water and then using nothing" vs "just slapping on antiobitc ointment after bleeding stops"?

#143264 - 08/08/08 03:43 PM Re: Neosporin antibotic cream? [Re: Arney]
benjammin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Nothing disinfects a minor wound like a good old soldering gun.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

#143266 - 08/08/08 03:50 PM Re: Neosporin antibotic cream? [Re: Fitzoid]
rly45acp Offline

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 18
Loc: SW Indiana
I think we need to break this down more. Are we talking about a) preventing infection in a fresh (as in "just happened") wound, b) treating a wound that has become infected, or c) once you've cleaned out the wound, you're trying to prevent an infection from occurring?

The aforementioned treatment by using both flushing with peroxide and a povidone iodine solution I learned from a truama doctor WHO USED IT ON MY KNEE! This individual got his BS in biomedical engineering and was at the top of his class at the University of Chicago Medical School. For my own edification I asked if he'd mind me asking him questions while he worked on the knee and he was enthusiastic in explaining the various treatments and why some preferred one thing to another. He stated the conventional wisdom was to save the damaged tissue, but he felt with a joint wound it was worth losing a few cells to be sure he knocked out any chance of an infection once the wound was sutured.

As for medical doctors using Neosporin on wounds, I know of an actual case in Africa where a U.S. doctor was treating his knee with Neosporin and it did get infected -- but not because of any issues with its efficacy, but because in the dry conditions of southern Africa, it simply wasn't the best choice. This particular doctor was a Vietnam vet and had achieved good results with the product while a medic there. The doctor treating him in Africa said they had found it didn't work well in the dry conditions and actually used a substance banned here in the U.S. -- a flush made with Merthiolate! With 72 hours the infection was eliminated, though the doctor nearly passed out from pain when the flush was started. Older folks like me on this forum remember what Merthiolate felt like on wounds. Of interest are the comments the Zimbabwean doctor said regarding medications. He said many of the medications we take for granted in the states are simply unavailable to them and they have to resort to older treatments to achieve the same results, but that they did, in fact, get good results with treatments considered obsolete here.

Also, I need to ask this of those in the know: What are the chances of getting a MRSA infection in the wild? I thought these were generally confined to hospitals, gyms and other public areas where one can get have a small opening contaminated by body fluids of an infected individual. If anyone knows, please speak up, as this is something I need to learn.

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