As bacitracin zinc salt, in combination with other topical antibiotics (usually polymyxin B and neomycin) as an ointment ("triple antibiotic ointment," with a common brand name Neosporin), it is used for topical treatment of a variety of localized skin and eye infections, as well as for the prevention of wound infections. A non-ointment form of ophthalmic solution is also available for eye infections.
Although allergic cross reaction with sulfa drugs has been occasionally reported, bacitracin-containing topical preparations remain a possible alternative to silver sulfadiazine (Silvadene) for burn patients with a sulfa allergy.
3D Chemical Structure of Bacitracin
Bacitracin can also be bought in pure form for those with allergies to the polymyxin B and neomycin components of the combination product.
Bacitracin is also commonly used as an aftercare antibiotic on tattoos and circumcision. It is preferred over combination products such as Neosporin because of its fewer ingredients, which lowers chances of an allergic reaction.
In infants, bacitracin is rarely administered intramuscularly for the treatment of staphylococcalpneumonia and empyema when due to organisms shown susceptible to bacitracin. This use is extremely limited, since bacitracin is nephrotoxic and the concentration of bacitracin in the blood must be followed closely.
Bacitracin is a NARROW spectrum antibiotic. It targets Gram-positive organisms, especially those that cause skin infections. The following represents susceptibility data for a few medically significant microorganisms.
The drug's unique name derives from the fact that it was isolated by John T. Goorley from a girl named Margaret Treacy (1936–1994): The surname was misspelled and the name was shortened to the more common spelling Tracy
One strain isolated from tissue debrided from a compound fracture of the tibia was particularly active. We named this growth-antagonistic strain for the patient, "Tracy I." When cell-free filtrates of broth cultures of this bacillus proved to possess strong antibiotic activity and to be non-toxic, further study seemed warranted. We have called this active principle "Bacitracin."
Bacitracin is commercially manufactured by growing the bacteria Bacillus subtilis var Tracy I in a container of liquid growth medium. Over time, the bacteria synthesizes the antibiotic and secretes the antibiotic into the medium. The antibiotic is then extracted from the medium using chemical processes.
Bacitracin is composed of a mixture of related compounds with varying degrees of antibacterial activity. Notable fractions include bacitracin A, A1, B, B1, B2, C, D, E, F, G, and X. Bacitracin A has been found to have the most antibacterial activity. Bacitracin B1 and B2 have similar potencies and are approximately 90% as active as bacitracin A. Other bacitracin components including F and X do not appear to be extensively studied.
^Trookman, NS; Rizer, RL; Weber, T (2011). "Treatment of minor wounds from dermatologic procedures: A comparison of three topical wound care ointments using a laser wound model". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 64 (3 Suppl): S8–15. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2010.11.011. PMID21247665.
^Zug KA, Warshaw EM, Fowler JF Jr, Maibach HI, Belsito DL, Pratt MD, Sasseville D, Storrs FJ, Taylor JS, Mathias CG, Deleo VA, Rietschel RL, Marks J. Patch-test results of the North American Contact Dermatitis Group 2005–2006. Dermatitis. 2009 May–Jun;20(3):149-60.
^Johnson B, Anker H, Meleney F (1945). "Bacitracin: a new antibiotic produced by a member of the B. subtilis group".Science102 (2650): 376–377.
^Murphy, T.; Roy, I.; Harrop, A.; Dixon, K.; Keshavarz, T. (2007). "Effect of oligosaccharide elicitors on bacitracin a production and evidence of transcriptional level control". Journal of Biotechnology. 131 (4): 397–403. doi:10.1016/j.jbiotec.2007.07.943. PMID17825450.
^"Committee for Veterinary Medicinal Products Bacitracin." Ema.europa.eu. The European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products, June 1998. Web. 18 Jan. 2013
^Bell, Robert G. "Preparative High-Performance Liquid Chromatographic Separation and Isolation of Bacitracin Components and Their Relationship to Microbiological Activity." Journal of Chromatography 590 (1992): 163–68. Web. 21 Aug. 2012.