Reference Index - Poison

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Bacitracin zinc overdose

Definition:

Bacitracin zinc is a medicine applied to cuts and other skin wounds to help prevent infection. Bacitracin is a germ-killing medicine called an antibiotic. Small amounts of bacitracin zinc are dissolved in petroleum jelly to create antibiotic ointments.

Bacitracin zinc overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally swallows products containing this ingredient or uses more than the normal or recommended amount of the product.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

See also:



Alternative Names:

Cortisporin ointment overdose; Baciferm overdose



Poisonous Ingredient:
  • Bacitracin
  • Zinc


Where Found:

These ingredients are found in many different products, including certain:

  • Over-the-counter antibiotic ointments and sprays such as Polysporin Spray and Neosporin
  • Prescription antibiotic eye drops and ointments such as Neosporin Ophthalmic

Bacitracin zinc may also be added to animal food.

Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.



Symptoms:

Bacitracin zinc is very safe. However getting bacitracin zinc in your eyes may cause redness and some pain and itching.

Intentionally eating bacitracin in large amounts may cause you to have some pain in your stomach and possibly throw up.

Rarely bacitracin zinc may cause an allergic reaction . You are most likely to have some redness and itching of your skin. However, like any substance, a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis ) can occur.



Home Treatment:

Stop using the product. Seek immediate emergency medical care.

If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.

If the chemical was swallowed, immediately give the person water or milk. Do NOT give water or milk if the patient is vomiting or has a decreased level of alertness.

Call poison control or your local emergency number (such as 911) for assistance.



Before Calling Emergency:

Determine the following information:

  • The patient's age, weight, and condition
  • The name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • The time it was swallowed
  • The amount swallowed


Poison Control, or a local emergency number:

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

See: Poison control center - emergency number



What to expect at the emergency room:

The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.

  • The patient may receive medicines to treat any allergic reaction.
  • The skin may be washed if the product touched the skin.
  • The eyes may be irrigated.


Expectations (prognosis):

How well you do depends on whether any allergic reaction can be controlled. If you survive longer than 24 hours, recovery is likely.




Review Date: 1/16/2010
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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