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Fusidic acid cream: overview, uses, and side effects

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

Fusidic acid (Fucidin) is an antibiotic and is used to treat bacterial skin infections. It can be used by adults and children to treat infections caused by staphylococcal bacteria, such as impetigo, and infected cuts and grazes. Fusidic acid ointment is a similar medication, the only difference is that it’s a bit greasier; therefore, it’s normally only used on smaller areas of skin. The medication is only available on prescription.

Fucidin H cream is a similar medication. It contains fusidic acid but has hydrocortisone (a corticosteroid) in addition. Fucidin H is used to treat inflammatory conditions that could also have a bacterial component. It can be used for infected eczema and dermatitis. All these medications are only available on prescription.

Fusidic acid has not been licensed for use in the US. The most similar product is mupirocin (Bactroban).

How do I use it?

You should follow the guidance given by your doctor but normally it is advised that you apply a small amount of fusidic acid cream or ointment to the affected area three or four times a day. Fucidin H cream is usually applied twice a day. The length of treatment is typically 1 to 2 weeks.

Make sure you wash your hands well before and after using fusidic acid cream to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of your body. Steroid-containing creams should not be used on any open skin, and on any sensitive areas of the body, such as the face.

How does it work?

Fusidic acid works by stopping the spread of bacterial skin infections. It does not kill the bacteria itself. Instead, it stops the bacteria from producing important proteins, and this prevents the bacteria from growing and replicating. The bacteria then either die on their own or are killed by your immune system.

Are there any side effects?

Like all medications, don’t take them if you have previously had an allergic reaction to the medication, or if you have other medications or medical conditions where you would normally discuss with your doctor or pharmacist before starting something new.

As with any medication, some people are bound to get some unwanted side effects. Some of the common ones include pain, irritation, stinging, redness, itching, swelling, and blistering at the site of application. Speak to your doctor if any of these side effects become bothersome.

When is Fucidin H used?

Fucidin H, which combines fusidic acid and hydrocortisone, is typically used when there is a bacterial skin infection with an accompanying inflammatory component. Here are some clinical scenarios where Fucidin H might be prescribed:

  • Bacterial Infections with Inflammation:

    • Fucidin H is often prescribed when there is a bacterial skin infection, such as impetigo or infected eczema, and there is also significant inflammation and itching.

    • The hydrocortisone component helps to reduce inflammation and provides relief from itching.

  • Inflammatory Ccondition with Secondary Infection:

    • If a patient with eczema or dermatitis develops a secondary bacterial infection, Fucidin H may be prescribed to address both the bacterial component and the inflammation associated with eczema.

The choice between Fucidin H and Fucidin cream depends on the specific clinical presentation and your doctor will make the best informed decision on this. It's important to note that the addition of hydrocortisone provides anti-inflammatory effects, but long-term use of topical corticosteroids should be avoided without supervision by your doctor. 

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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