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  • Mafenide


    Mafenide is an antibiotic. Antibiotics work by suppressing the growth of bacteria that contribute to acne symptoms.

    Mafenide is available in Topical formulations. Topical antibiotics can be used to treat all types of acne, while oral antibiotics are usually reserved for patients with serious symptoms.

    Overall, Mafenide is rated as a Good treatment for acne. Users report that, Mafenide is Somewhat Effective for improving acne symptoms and that this medication tends to have Mild side effects.

    Ratings Breakdown

    Mafenide RatingsScore
    Side Effects2
    User Recommended38.46%
    Antibiotic Susceptibility3.90
    Antibiotic Resistance0.80
    Editor Rating3.75
    Table Key: Green is Good, Red is Bad

    Do you have experience with Mafenide?

    The Basics

    Official Name: Mafenide.
    Popular Brand Names: Sulfamylon
    Type of Treatment: Rx MedicationAntibiotic (Topical)Sulfa Family.

    How it Works: Mafenide inhibits the growth of bacteria that contribute to acne vulgaris symptoms.

    Mafenide Background

    Mafenide (Sulfamylon) Molecule

    Mafenide is a topical medication that is in the sulfa family of antibiotics. It works by inhibiting the ability of susceptible bacteria to synthesize folic acid, which is an essential B-vitamin. Mafenide is structurally similar to other sulfa family antibiotics, including sulfamethoxazole, sulfadiazine and sulfacetamide.

    The primary use of mafenide is in the treatment of burn victims in order to prevent secondary infections and accelerate the healing process. Mafenide has been available since the 1950s, but it is not a widely used medication. Mafenide is not routinely used for the treatment of acne vulgaris.

    Additional Names for Retapamulin: 4-Homosufanilamide, Bensulfamide, Benzamsulfonamide, Homosulphamide, Mafenid, Mafenida, Mafenide Acetate, Mafénide, Mafenidum, Maphenidum, Mesudin, p-Sulfamoylbenzylamine and Sulphabenzamine.

    Mafenide in the Treatment of Acne

    Mafenide is not generally used in the treatment of acne. Very few doctors and dermatologists are likely to be familiar with this medication and it is unlikely to be prescribed for anything other than the treatment of acute burn injuries.

    There is very little research into the effectiveness of mafenide in the treatment of acne vulgaris. However, most Propionibacterium acnes bacteria are moderately sensitive to all of the Sulfa family antibiotics. Therefore, it is possible that this medication may be an effective treatment for some patients with acne vulgaris.

    Cost and Availability of Mafenide

    When possible, mafenide should be obtained through consultation of a physician.  Many doctors and dermatologists are not familiar with this medication.  The use of mafenide for the treatment of acne vulgaris would be considered “off-label”. Mafenide is available in generic and brand name formulations. Mafenide tends to be moderately expensive.

    Side Effects of Mafenide

    Topical mafenide has a side effects profile that is very similar to that of other topical Sulfa antibiotics (silver sulfadiazine and sulfacetamide).  Most adverse reactions are minor and are limited to minor skin irritation.  In some cases more severe reactions may occur.  Systemic reactions are rare, but are often accompanied by fever, joint pain, nausea and anaphylaxis.  Sulfa family medications have an increased incidence of side effects when compared to many other antibiotics.  People with known allergies to any Sulfa family antibiotic are at increased risk of adverse reaction to all other members of the family.  For more in-depth information about potential side effects of mafenide, refer to the physician’s insert for topical mafenide, or consult a medical professional.  For more information about contraindications in general, refer to Avoiding Negative Drug Interactions.

    Related Articles from The Science of Acne

    Avoiding Negative Drug Interactions
    A Guide to Buying Prescription Medications on the Internet
    Prescription Medications Used in Acne Treatment
    What causes acne?

    References and Sources


    PDR Staff Writers. 2011. 2011 Physicians’ Desk Reference
    Gallagher. 2011. Antibiotics Simplified, Second Edition
    Habif. 2009. Clinical Dermatology
    Goodheart. 2006. Acne For Dummies
    Bartlett. 2012. Johns Hopkins Antibiotics Guide 2012 (Johns Hopkins Medicine)

    Online Resources

    PubMed Health - The National Institute of Health (US)
    Mafenide @ Wikipedia
    Physician’s Inserts for Topical Mafenide

    Scientific Research Articles

    1. Glasser, et al. 2010. Activity of topical antimicrobial agents against multidrug-resistant bacteria recovered from burn patients.
    2. Macmillan, et al. 1967. Use of Topical Silver Nitrate, Mafenide, and Gentamicin in the Burn Patient.
    3. Mendelson, et al. 1962. Sulfamylon (Mafenide) and Penicillin As Expedient Treatment of Experimental Massive Open Wounds With C. Perfringens Infection.
    4. Murphy, et al. 1983. The Effect of 5% Mafenide Acetate Solution on Bacterial Control in Infected Rat Burns.
    5. Neely, et al. 2009. Are Topical Antimicrobials Effective Against Bacteria That are Highly Resistant to Systemic Antibiotics?.

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