announcement

Help someone with useful health advice.

Neosporin Vs. Polysporin: Which is Better?

Neosporin Vs. Polysporin: Which is Better?

When talking about Neosporin vs. Polysporin, there is one important factor that distinguishes the two. The antibiotic neomycin used for formulating Neosporin is not present in Polysporin. Instead, gramicidin is used.
Nicks J
Last Updated: May 11, 2018
Did You Know?
Both Neosporin and Polysporin are sold under the brand name Johnson & Johnson.
The use of antibiotics as antibacterial agents has come a long way. Be it any kind of infection caused by bacteria, antibiotics are always chosen as the first line of treatment. Of the many antibiotics used, Neosporin and Polysporin belong to the popular class of topical antibiotics. So, in case of minor wounds such as cuts and scrapes, the application of these topical agents is recommended to speed the healing process.
One may think that as both Neosporin and Polysporin are effective topical antibiotics, they can be used interchangeably. However, this is not the case because they have different chemical compositions. Also, the allergy risk from using these topical agents is not the same due to the difference in their compositions.
Here, we shall look at the differences between Neosporin and Polysporin, with respect to their antibacterial activity, ability to relieve pain, the side effects they may have, and their use.
Difference between Neosporin and Polysporin
Neosporin Polysporin
Antibacterial Activity The antibacterial activity of Neosporin comes from 3 ingredients; namely, neomycin sulfate, polymyxin B, and bacitracin zinc. These three antibiotics have been formulated to destroy bacteria. Barring neomycin sulfate, all other antibiotic agents in Polysporin are the same as those in Neosporin. Neomycin is replaced with gramicidin, which is also an effective antibiotic against bacteria.
Side Effects There is an increased risk of side effects associated with Neosporin due to the presence of neomycin. In fact, neomycin is one of the most common underlying causes of allergic contact dermatitis. Although bacitracin present in Polysporin also carries the risk of contact dermatitis, it is significantly lower compared to neomycin. So, those who show allergy to neomycin, may be prescribed with Polysporin.
Pain-relieving Properties Neosporin is not just a combination of antibiotics but also contains a pain-relieving agent. In Neosporin, pramoxine is added, which works to alleviate pain associated with wounds. It acts as a temporary pain reliever to ease the discomfort. Polysporin also contains an ingredient to reduce the sensation of pain. Lidocaine hydrochloride is that active ingredient of Polysporin, which is also effective in reducing the sensation of pain. Lidocaine HCl is often added, as it is known for its ability to deliver quick pain relief.
Usage Preference Due to the higher risk of allergy from neomycin, the use of Neosporin is recommended only if necessary and that too after common antibiotic agents fail to work. Polysporin is usually preferred over Neosporin, as it is less likely to trigger any allergic reaction.
As far as improvement in the factors related to wound healing is concerned, no measurable difference has been observed after using Neosporin and Polysporin. For instance, improvement in erythema and wound appearance from the usage of both, is more or less the same.
On the whole, there is no doubt that the use of topical antibiotic agents is good for wound healing and care. Regarding which to use, people using neomycin-free products tend to have less chances of developing an allergic reaction. Hence, Polysporin might be a better option.