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JAMA Revisited
March 5, 2014

Treatment of Pyoderma With Polymyxin B-Bacitracin Ointment

JAMA. 2014;311(9):969. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.279369

Among the new and highly effective antibiotic ointments developed in recent years is one consisting of bacitracin, 500 units, and polymyxin B, 10,000 units, in a base of petrolatum (Polysporin). We used it in treating 577 consecutive cases of pyogenic infections of the skin with results that were altogether satisfactory (see table). There were no toxic reactions or failures in the 577 cases treated.

The patients were asked to apply a film of the ointment “frequently.” Lesions responded more quickly when the ointment was applied hourly than when it was applied only three or four times in the day, and, as was to be expected, superficial infections responded to treatment more readily than deep-seated ones. Of the cases of primary pyoderma, impetigo showed decided improvement within three days; it was often cured in only one day, and it healed invariably within seven days. Ecthyma and pyogenic paronychia required up to two weeks to heal, and sycosis vulgaris sometimes required as long as three weeks. However, supplementary treatment with x-ray therapy or cryotherapy materially shortened the time for recovery from sycosis.

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