Bacitracin zinc overdose

This poisoning is due to an overdose of bacitracin zinc.

Poisonous Ingredient  

  • Bacitracin  
  • Zinc

Where Found  

  • Some prescription antibiotic eye drops, such as Neosporin Ophthalmic drops  
  • Some prescription antibiotic eye ointments, such as Neosporin Ophthalmic Ointment  
  • Some antibiotic sprays, such as Polysporin Spray  
  • Some antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin and Polysporin

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • Body as a whole       o Swelling of lips and face       o Sweating       o Tightness of chest  
  • Respiratory       o Temporarily stop breathing  
  • Skin       o Rash       o Itching  
  • Heart and blood vessels       o Low blood pressure       o Heart stops  
  • Nervous system       o Unconsciousness

Note: These reactions are more likely as a result of an allergic reaction rather than a true overdose situation.

Home Treatment  
Discontinue the use of the antibiotic. Seek emergency medical care immediately. Call Poison Control for guidance.

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  
See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room  

  • Treat the allergic reaction with diphenhydramine and prednisone.  
  • For swallowed poison       o Placement of a tube down the nose and into the stomach (a nasogastric tube, or an NG tube) to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage).       o Activated charcoal administration.       o Endoscopy - the placement of a camera down the throat to see the extent of burns to the esophagus and the stomach.       o Give IV fluids.       o Admission to the hospital.       o Give an antidote.       o Treat the symptoms.  
  • For skin exposure       o Irrigation (washing of the skin), perhaps every few hours for several days.       o Skin debridement (surgical removal of burned skin).       o Admission or transfer to a hospital that specializes in burn care.

Expectations (prognosis)
If the allergic reaction can be controlled, recovery is very likely.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Mamikon Bozoyan, M.D.

Medical Encyclopedia

  A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | 0-9

All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.