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Neosporin vs. Polysporin: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 13, 2024
Neosporin and Polysporin are topical antibiotics, but Neosporin contains neomycin, while Polysporin does not.

Key Differences

Neosporin, a widely used topical antibiotic ointment, contains neomycin, polymyxin B, and bacitracin. Polysporin, also a popular choice, excludes neomycin and consists only of polymyxin B and bacitracin.
Neosporin is effective for preventing infections in minor cuts, burns, and scrapes. Polysporin, while also used for similar purposes, is often recommended for those allergic to neomycin.
The inclusion of neomycin in Neosporin makes it potent against a broader range of bacteria. Polysporin, lacking neomycin, is less likely to cause allergic reactions and is considered gentler.
Neosporin's triple antibiotic formula provides a comprehensive treatment against common skin bacteria. Polysporin, with its dual antibiotics, is effective but has a slightly narrower antibacterial spectrum.
Neosporin is a go-to for many due to its broad-spectrum efficacy. Polysporin is preferred by those seeking an effective antibiotic ointment with a lower risk of allergic reactions.

Comparison Chart


Neomycin, polymyxin B, bacitracin
Polymyxin B, bacitracin

Allergenic Potential

Higher due to neomycin
Lower, more suitable for sensitive skin

Antibacterial Spectrum

Slightly narrower spectrum

Common Use

Preventing infections in minor wounds
Same, but for those allergic to neomycin


Wider range of bacterial infections
Preferred for less severe infections

Neosporin and Polysporin Definitions


It helps speed up healing and prevent bacterial growth.
Neosporin accelerated the healing of her scraped knee.


It contains polymyxin B and bacitracin to prevent infection.
Polysporin effectively treated her minor skin infection.


Neosporin is a topical antibiotic ointment used to prevent infection in minor wounds.
She applied Neosporin to her cut to prevent infection.


Polysporin is a topical antibiotic ointment, similar to Neosporin but without neomycin.
He used Polysporin, as he is allergic to neomycin.


It contains neomycin, polymyxin B, and bacitracin to combat bacteria.
The combination of ingredients in Neosporin makes it highly effective.


Polysporin is suitable for people with sensitive skin.
Her dermatologist recommended Polysporin for her sensitive skin.


Neosporin is used for cuts, burns, and scrapes.
After burning his hand, he immediately used Neosporin.


It's used for treating small wounds, like cuts and scrapes.
She applied Polysporin to the scrape on her elbow.


Neosporin is a common choice in first-aid treatments.
Always keep Neosporin in your first-aid kit.


Polysporin is a gentler alternative to Neosporin.
For minor injuries, Polysporin is often the preferred choice.


Trade name for a topical drug containing several antibacterials; used as an ointment for skin irritations and in the form of eyedrops for minor eye infections


What is Polysporin?

A similar ointment to Neosporin but without neomycin.

What is Neosporin?

A topical antibiotic ointment with neomycin, polymyxin B, and bacitracin.

Is Neosporin good for all types of skin wounds?

It's effective for minor cuts, burns, and scrapes.

How often should Polysporin be applied?

Typically 1 to 3 times a day, as directed.

Is Neosporin safe for pets?

It's not recommended for pets without veterinarian advice.

Does Polysporin expire?

Yes, check the expiry date before use.

Is Neosporin effective against all bacteria?

It has a broad-spectrum but may not cover all bacteria.

Is Polysporin good for acne?

It's not typically used for acne; consult a dermatologist.

Does Neosporin help with healing?

It can speed up healing by preventing infection.

Can Polysporin treat severe skin infections?

It's intended for minor infections; severe cases need medical attention.

Can Polysporin be used on burns?

Yes, for minor burns.

Is Polysporin less likely to cause allergies?

Yes, it's often recommended for those with sensitive skin.

Can Neosporin be used on children?

Yes, but with caution and preferably under medical advice.

Can Neosporin be used with other medications?

Consult a doctor if using other topical medications.

What are the side effects of Neosporin?

Potential side effects include skin irritation or allergic reaction.

How long should I use Neosporin on a wound?

Follow the package directions or consult a healthcare professional.

Can Polysporin be used on surgical wounds?

Only under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Does Neosporin stain clothes?

It can, so be careful when applying.

Is Polysporin a pain reliever?

No, it does not contain pain-relieving ingredients.

Is Polysporin waterproof?

No, it can wash off and may need reapplication after water exposure.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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