1. About fusidic acid
Fusidic acid is an antibiotic.
Fusidic acid is only available on prescription. It comes as a cream, ointment, or eye drops. It's can be combined with a steroid in some creams.
It's also given by injection, as a liquid you swallow, or as tablets, but these are usually only used in hospital.
2. Key facts
- It's usual to use fusidic acid eye drops twice a day. It's usual to put on fusidic acid cream or ointment 3 or 4 times a day.
- The most common side effects of fusidic acid eye drops are dry, sore, itchy or stinging eyes. You may also get blurred vision. It's unusual to get side effects with fusidic acid cream or ointment, but some people get skin irritation where they put it on.
- Treatment with fusidic cream or ointment is usually for 1 or 2 weeks, although sometimes it can be for longer. You should use fusidic acid eye drops for at least 48 hours after you feel better and your eye looks normal.
- Fusidic acid eye drops are called by the brand name Fucithalmic. Fusidic acid cream or ointment is called by the brand name Fucidin.
3. Who can and can't take fusidic acid
Fusidic acid (cream, ointment and eye drops) can be used by most adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women. Fusidic acid can also be used by children.
Fusidic acid isn't suitable for some people. To make sure fusidic acid is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to fusidic acid or any other medicines in the past.
4. How and when to use cream or ointment
It's usual to put on fusidic acid cream or ointment 3 or 4 times a day. Check with your pharmacist or doctor if you're unsure.
The difference between cream and ointment is that ointment is greasier.
Your doctor will probably prescribe cream if you have a lot of infected skin to cover, and ointment for smaller infected areas.
How to put it on
- Remove the cap. Check the seal isn't broken before you first use the cream or ointment. Then push the spike in the cap through the seal on the tube.
- Always wash your hands before using fusidic acid cream or ointment. Unless you're using the cream or ointment to treat your hands, always wash your hands afterwards, too.
- Put a thin layer of cream or ointment onto the infected area and gently rub it in.
- Be careful to avoid your eyes if you use it on your face.
If you accidentally get any medicine in your eye, wash it out with cold water straight away, then bathe your eye with eyewash if possible. Your eye may sting.
If you start to have any problems with your sight or your eye is sore, contact your doctor immediately.
If you have been told to cover the infected skin with any dressings or bandages, you may not need to use the medicine so often. Follow the advice of your doctor.
How long to use it
Your skin should start to improve after a few days. But it's very important to use the cream or ointment for as long as your doctor has prescribed it.
Treatment with fusidic cream or ointment is usually for 1 or 2 weeks, although sometimes it can be for longer.
Carry on taking this medicine until you have finished the course, even if you feel better.
If you stop your treatment early, the infection could come back.
What if I forget to use it?
If you forget to use fusidic acid cream or ointment, put it on as soon as you remember. Then continue to use the cream or ointment at the usual time.
What if I use too much?
If you accidentally put on too much cream or ointment - or if you get some in your mouth - it's unlikely to harm you.
Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you're worried, or if you or your child swallow a lot of the medicine.
5. How and when to use eye drops
Fusidic acid eye drops come as a gel in a tube. As the gel touches your eye it becomes runnier.
It's usual to put 1 drop into your eye twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
How to put in eye drops
- Take the cap off the tube when you're ready to use the medicine. It's important that the tip of the tube doesn't touch your eye. If the tip of the tube touches your eye, squeeze out 2 or 3 drops straight away onto some tissue and rinse the tip of the tube with salt water.
- Tilt your head back. Pull your lower eyelid down gently. Hold the tube over your eye and look up. Squeeze 1 drop into your lower eyelid.
- Close your eye for a minute or two and press gently on the side of your nose where the corner of your eye meets your nose. This helps to stop the drop draining away and keeps it in your eye.
You might get some blurred vision straight after putting the drops in, but this should clear after a few minutes.
If the eye drops are for a child, it might be easier to put the drops in while they're asleep or lying down.
If you normally wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead until your symptoms have completely gone.
Wait for 24 hours after the last dose of eye drops before using your contact lenses again. The eye drops can damage some contact lenses.
How long to use eye drops
Your eye should start to feel better within a few days.
But it's very important to use the medicine for as long as your doctor has prescribed it. Even when your eye looks normal again, there may still be some bacteria in it.
As a general rule, you should use fusidic acid eye drops for at least 48 hours after you feel better and your eye looks normal.
This will help make sure that all the bacteria have been killed.
Carry on using this medicine until you have finished the course, even if you feel better.
If you stop your treatment early, the infection could come back.
What if I forget to use them?
If you forget to put the drops in, do it as soon as you remember. Then continue to use the drops at the usual time.
What if I use too much?
If you accidentally put too many drops in your eye - or if you swallow eye drops by accident - it's unlikely to harm you.
6. Side effects
Side effects of cream or ointment
It's unusual to have side effects with fusidic acid cream or ointment.
Some people get skin irritation where they put on the cream or ointment. This happens in less than 1 in 100 people.
Keep using the cream or ointment, but talk to your pharmacist or doctor if skin irritation bothers you or doesn't go away.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects of fusidic acid cream or ointment are rare and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people.
Call a doctor straight away if you get:
Side effects of eye drops
Common side effects of fusidic acid happen in more than 1 in 10 people and include:
- burning, stinging, itching, soreness or dryness in the eye you're treating
- blurred vision in the eye you're treating
Keep using the eye drops, but talk to your doctor if these side effects bother you or don't go away.
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction to fusidic acid cream, ointment or eye drops.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you're wheezing
- you get tightness in the chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
These aren't all the side effects of fusidic acid cream or ointment.
For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.
You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.
7. How to cope with side effects
What to do about:
- burning, stinging, itching, soreness or dryness in the eye you're treating - do not rub your eye as this can make things worse. Wet a flannel with cool water and hold it over your eye for a few minutes to ease the symptoms. Make sure you do not share the flannel with others, and wash it after you have used it. Always wash your hands after touching your eyes to stop the infection spreading.
- blurred vision in the eye you're treating - avoid driving or using tools or machines while this is happening. If it lasts for more than a day or two, speak to your doctor as they may need to change your treatment.
8. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It's generally safe to use fusidic acid cream, ointment or eye drops while you're pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you're breastfeeding, take care when you put on fusidic acid cream or ointment.
Make sure you do not accidentally get it on your breasts. If this happens, wash off any cream or ointment from your breasts before feeding your baby.
For safety, tell your doctor if you're trying to get pregnant, pregnant or breastfeeding.
9. Cautions with other medicines
There aren't any medicines known to cause problems if you take them at the same time as fusidic acid cream, ointment or eye drops.
For safety, tell your pharmacist or doctor if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.
10. Common questions
How does fusidic acid work?
How long does it take to work?
What if I don't get better?
Can I drive or ride a bike?
Will it give me thrush?
Will it stop my contraception working?
Will it reduce my fertility?
Is there any food or drink I need to avoid?
Page last reviewed: 06/12/2018
Next review due: 06/12/2021