Mupirocin (Bactroban nasal ointment)

How does it work?

Bactroban nasal ointment contains the active ingredient mupirocin, which is an antibacterial medicine. It is used to eliminate staphylococcal bacteria from the nasal passages. In particular, it is usually reserved for eradicating methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria from the nasal passages of hospital inpatients.

Certain bacteria, including MRSA, are found naturally on many people's skin and inside their nose. These bacteria are usually harmless and don't cause any problems. However, they can cause infection if they get into a wound or spread to other parts of the body. In a hospital environment it is important that these types of bacteria are eliminated, because they can not only cause infections in the carrier, but can also be spread to other people and potentially cause serious infections in people who are sick and vulnerable.

Bactroban nasal ointment is applied inside the nose for this purpose.

The mupirocin works by affecting the bacteria's production of certain proteins that are necessary for their survival. It causes the bacteria to produce abnormal and faulty proteins. This ultimately kills the bacteria.

What is it used for?

  • Eradicating staphylococcal bacteria, in particular MRSA, from the nostrils in order to prevent infections.

How do I use it?

  • Bactroban nasal ointment should be applied inside the nostrils two to three times a day for five to seven days. Follow the instructions given by your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
  • A small amount of the ointment (about the size of a match head) should be placed on the little finger and applied to the inside of each nostril. The nostrils should then closed by pressing the sides of the nose together to spread the ointment around the nostrils. A cotton bud may be used instead of the little finger for applying the ointment to infants or patients who are very ill.
  • Wash your hands after applying the ointment.
  • A swab will be taken from the nose two days after this treatment to confirm that the bacteria have been eradicated.
  • The course may be repeated if this sample is positive (and the throat is not colonised). To avoid the bacteria developing resistance to mupirocin, the treatment course should not exceed seven days and the course should not be repeated on more than one occasion.


  • Avoid getting the ointment in contact with the eyes. If it gets in the eyes they should be thoroughly rinsed with plenty of water.

Not to be used in

  • Known sensitivity or allergy to any ingredient.

This medicine should not be used if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Please inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have previously experienced such an allergy.

If you feel you have experienced an allergic reaction, stop using this medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.

  • The safety of this medicine during pregnancy has not been established. The manufacturer therefore advises that it should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefits outweigh any risks to the developing baby. Seek medical advice from your doctor.
  • There is no information available about the safety of this medicine during breastfeeding. Seek medical advice from your doctor.

Side effects

Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.

  • Itching, redness, burning, tingling or stinging sensation in the nose.
  • Skin irritation or allergic reaction.

The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine's manufacturer.

For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.

How can this medicine affect other medicines?

This medicine is not known to affect other medicines.

Other medicines containing the same active ingredient

Bactroban cream and ointment