The Basics

Type of Treatment: Rx MedicationAntibiotic (Topical) Pseudomonic Acid Family

How It Works: Mupirocin is an antibiotic. Antibiotics can improve acne symptoms by limiting the growth of bacteria that contribute to Acne Vulgaris.

When is this medication used? Mupirocin is is used for the treatment of all types of acne, from mild to severe acne (Acne Types: 1-4).  In cases of moderate to severe acne (Acne Types: 3-4), Mupirocin is often combined with additional treatments (eg, oral antibiotic, oral retinoids and/or light and laser therapy).

Frequency of Mupirocin Resistant P. acnes Bacteria: Common. (What does this mean?)

Official Name: Mupirocin
Popular Brand Names: Bactroban, Centany, Dermoban, Micoban.

If you have used MUPIROCIN as a treatment for acne vulgaris, please share your experience and opinions.

Important Note: The information provided on this site is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any diseases. The Science of Acne strongly encourages you to consult a qualified medical professional before making any treatment decisions. For the complete disclaimer, click here.

Mupirocin and Acne

For some acne patients mupirocin is a moderately effective anti-acne medication that has few side effects.  Some patients report rapid and significant improvement in their symptoms after beginning treatment with topical mupirocin.

The most common problem associated with the use of mupirocin in acne treatment is that many patients report the medication becomes less effective over time.  This is most likely due to the target bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) becoming resistant to mupirocin.

The development of antibiotic resistance during treatment appears to be a major limitation of mupirocin treatment (it is also a major problem with the quinolone family of antibiotics).  The problems with rapidly acquired resistance to mupirocin and quinolones (eg. ciprofloxacin) are likely related to the manner in which the bacteria become resistant.  It appears that small genetic mutations can yield high levels of resistance to these particular antibiotics.  In contrast, many other antibiotics (eg. penicillins) may require the acquisition of an entire gene (which is much less likely to happen than a small genetic mutation).

Because of mupirocin tends to become less effective over the course of treatment, it is poorly suited for the long-term control of acne symptoms.  However, mupirocin can prescribed in conjunction with other medications, including oral and topical medications, oral and topical retinoids and light and laser therapies.  The short-term use of mupirocin at the beginning of a multi-drug treatment may accelerate the resolution of acne symptoms.

Patient Reviews of Mupirocin

Topical mupirocin appears to be moderately effective against mild to moderate acne (Acne Types: 1-2).  However, mupirocin tends to be innefective for the treatment of moderate to severe acne (Acne Types: 3-4).  Some types of bacteria can rapidly acquire resistance to mupirocin.  This can cause mupirocin to become less effective over time.


Additional Patient Reviews of Mupirocin:,,,,

Cost and Availability of Mupirocin

When possible, mupirocin should be obtained through consultation of a physician. Many doctors and dermatologists are familiar with this medication, although many are not.  Mupirocin is moderately expensive and is widely available in brand name and generic formulations.

Mupirocin Adverse Effects

The most common side effect of topical mupirocin treatment is mild skin irritation. In rare cases, patients may experience more serious skin irritations. Topically applied mupirocin is poorly absorbed into the blood stream and systemic reactions are rare.

For more in-depth information about potential side effects of tetracycline treatment, refer to the physician’s insert for mupirocin, or consult a medical professional. For more information about contraindications in general, refer to Avoiding Negative Drug Interactions.

Mupirocin Background

Mupirocin (Bactroban) Molecule

Mupirocin is an antibiotic that is primarily used in the treatment of skin infections.  It is a mixture of molecules called Pseudomonic acids.  These molecules kill susceptible bacteria by preventing the bacteria from utilizing an essential amino acid, isoleucine. Without isoleucine, bacteria are unable to synthesize new proteins and replicate.

Mupirocin is commonly used to treat Impetigo, and is also a useful addition to combination treatments for MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus.  Because mupirocin has a different mechanism of action than most other antibiotics, it is often used in synergistic combinations with other oral and topical antibiotics.  These combination treatments are often more effective than the use of mupirocin alone.

Additional Names for Mupirocin: Bacrocin, Bactifree, Bactoderm, Bactrocin, Bactrocine, Bagobiotic, Bantix, Betrion, Biobactron, Dermoban, Foskina, Micoban, Mirobact, Mupax, Mupider, Mupiderm, Mupiral, Mupirocina, Mupirocine, Mupirocinum, Mupirox, Mupiskin, Paldar, Pibaksin, Plasimine, Pseudomonic Acid, Pseudomoninsäure, Seladerm, Spectroderm, Supirocin and Turixin.

Related Articles from The Science of Acne

Mupirocin User Review (Comprehensive)
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

Online Resources

PubMed Health – The National Institute of Health (US)
Mupirocin @ Wikipedia
Physician’s Insert for Mupirocin

Scientific Research Articles

  1. Marina, et al. 2006. The most frequently used topical antibacterial agents in the dermatology practice.
  2. Del Rosso, et al. 2008. Antibiotic use in acne vulgaris and rosacea: clinical considerations and resistance issues of significance to dermatologists.
  3. Werner, et al. 1999. Mupirocin, fusidic acid and bacitracin: activity, action and clinical uses of three topical antibiotics.
  4. Sutherland, et al. 1985. Antibacterial activity of mupirocin (pseudomonic acid), a new antibiotic for topical use..
  5. Ward, et al. 1986. Mupirocin. A review of its antibacterial activity, pharmacokinetic properties and therapeutic use.
  6. Pappa, et al. 1990. The clinical development of mupirocin.
  7. Leyden, et al. 2001. The evolving role of Propionibacterium acnes in acne.
  8. Goulden, et al. 2003. Guidelines for the management of acne vulgaris in adolescents.
  9. Cookson, et al. 1998. The emergence of mupirocin resistance: a challenge to infection control and antibiotic prescribing practice.
  10. Bass, et al. 1997. Comparison of oral cephalexin, topical mupirocin and topical bacitracin for treatment of impetigo.
  11. Graton, et al. 1987. Topical mupirocin versus oral erythromycin in the treatment of primary and secondary skin infections.