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    Can You Get Antibiotics Over the Counter?

    Bacterial infections can be concerning, whether it's strep throat, UTI, or something more serious. While antibiotics cannot be purchased over-the-counter, discover how to easily obtain them using K Health's help.

    Health guides > Medication > Over The Counter Antibiotics

    Can You Get Antibiotics Over the Counter?

    By Jenell Decker, MD

    Medically reviewed October 15, 2021


    What Are Antibiotics?

    How Can You Get Antibiotics?

    When to See a Doctor

    How K Health Can Help


    When you suspect that you have an infection, you may think you can go to the pharmacy and pick up some antibiotics to treat it.

    But you probably shouldn’t waste your time: You cannot buy the vast majority of antibiotics over the counter.

    See, while these important medications help fight off bacterial infections and save lives around the world every day, using them too often or for the wrong illnesses can cause them to become ineffective.

    So, to obtain most antibiotics, you need a prescription from a healthcare provider.

    In this article, I’ll break this all down in detail.

    First I’ll discuss the most common antibiotics, what they treat, and how to use them.

    Then I’ll explain antibiotic resistance and the different ways to get antibiotics.

    Finally, I’ll cover when you may want to see a doctor about antibiotics.

    What Are Antibiotics?

    Antibiotics are a class of powerful medications that eradicate bacteria or slow their growth.

    Also called antibacterials, these medications can cure infections caused by bacteria.

    Antibiotic uses

    Antibiotics are used to treat a variety of bacterial infections, including:

    Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

    Tooth infections Pneumonia Meningitis Acne Skin infections Strep throat

    Common antibiotics

    Some of the most common groups of antibiotics include:

    Penicillins: These treat everything from UTIs to skin infections to respiratory tract infections.Tetracyclines: These are often prescribed for common conditions like acne, skin infections, tick-borne illnesses, respiratory infections, and more.Cephalosporins: These can treat a variety of infections, including pneumonia, meningitis, and ear infections.Macrolides: A common alternative for people who are allergic to penicillin, these are used for some types of pneumonia, STDs, and other infections.Fluoroquinolones: These versatile antibiotics treat a variety of skin, sinus, joint, and urinary infections. However, fluoroquinolones such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin can interact with many common medications and may have some serious side effects.Sulfonamides: The most common sulfonamide is trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra). Sulfonamides work by stopping or slowing the growth of bacteria and are often used for UTIs and skin infections.



    Antibiotic resistance

    Antibiotic resistance is a growing issue both nationally and internationally.

    Put simply, the overprescribing and improper use of antibiotics worldwide has led to some bacteria learning how to survive against the most powerful antibiotics designed to kill them off.

    Every year, antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect more than two million people in the U.S., often leading to hospitalizations or, in some cases, death.

    To fight antibiotic resistance, the CDC designated better-informed use and prescription of antibiotics as a national priority.

    You can do your part by taking antibiotics as prescribed, not sharing your antibiotics with anyone or saving them, and never pressuring a healthcare provider to prescribe antibiotics.

    How Can You Get Antibiotics?

    Most antibiotic drugs are prescription drugs, but some topical antibiotics can be purchased as over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.

    Doctor prescription

    In the United States, oral, intravenous (IV), and intramuscular (IM) antibiotics are only available via prescription, so you need to speak to a medical professional to obtain them.

    Your provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and may run additional tests to determine which antibiotic, if any, is right for you.

    Over the counter

    Some topical antibiotics used to treat minor cuts, scrapes, and burns are available OTC at many drug stores.

    These include:

    Bacitracin (Neosporin)

    Polymyxin (Polysporin)

    Neomycin (Neosporin Plus Pain Relief)

    Benzoyl peroxide (Proactiv)

    When to See a Doctor

    If you think you may have signs or symptoms of a bacterial infection, talk to your provider about whether a prescription or OTC antibiotic is right for you.

    The sooner you receive the appropriate diagnosis, the sooner you can receive the proper treatment and start to feel better.

    How K Health Can Help 

    Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?

    Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is there something similar to antibiotics that you can get over the counter?

    Can you get antibiotics without seeing a doctor?

    How long should you take antibiotics?

    K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

    Source : khealth.com

    Can You Request Antibiotics Over The Counter ?

    Oral antibiotics require a prescription from a licensed doctor. Some topical antibiotics may be available over the counter. Learn more about antibiotics here.

    Blog Antibiotics

    Antibiotics Over The Counter

    Written by

    Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

    Reviewed by

    Linda Anegawa, MD, FACP

    April 21, 2022 Read Time - 5 minutes

    Can You Get Antibiotics Over the Counter?

    Some antibiotics are available over the counter, but most require a prescription from a doctor. Antibiotics are a class of medications used to treat bacterial infections. They are not used for viral infections. Antibiotics work by attacking and killing bacteria. There are many different types of antibiotics that target different bacterial infections.

    Some medications are available over the counter prior to needing antibiotics. For example, the over the counter medication, Azo, is often used to treat urinary tract infection symptoms. Sometimes this medication is enough to keep the symptoms at bay, but sometimes antibiotics are needed to treat and cure the infection.

    Which antibiotics are available over the counter? Let us take a closer look.

    Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

    See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

    Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

    Book an appointment

    Are There Antibiotics You Can Get Over the Counter?

    Yes, there are antibiotics that you can get over the counter. These can be found at any local drug store or grocery store pharmacy. That said, only certain types of antibiotics, such as topical antibiotics, are available over the counter. Stronger antibiotics, such as oral antibiotics, require a prescription from a doctor.

    Antibiotics can be given via different routes in and on the body. There are invasive and less invasive ways to administer antibiotics.

    The four types of antibiotic administration routes include:

    Topical (some over the counter availability)

    Oral (prescription required)

    Intravenous (IV) (prescription required)

    Intramuscular (IM) (prescription required)

    Less invasive administration routes of antibiotics include topical routes. Many topical antibiotics are available over the counter. These antibiotics are creams that are spread onto the skin to treat minor scrapes, wounds, acne, and burns.

    Topical over-the-counter antibiotics include:

    Neosporin (bacitracin/neomycin/polymyxin B)

    Polysporin (bacitracin/polymyxin B)

    Neosporin Plus (neomycin/polymyxin B/pramoxine)

    Proactiv/Clearskin (Benzoyl peroxide)

    Topical antibiotics also have generic brands available and have been manufactured into a cream or ointment that can be directly applied to the skin.

    There are also stronger topical antibiotics that require a doctor’s prescription, such as Mupirocin. These are used to treat more severe infections that are not responding to over-the-counter topical antibiotics.

    Oral, intravenous, and intramuscular antibiotics are not available over the counter. Oral antibiotics are taken by mouth and are used to treat bacterial infections.

    Some common bacterial infections that require oral antibiotics include:

    Urinary tract infections

    Strep throat

    Certain Sexually Transmitted Infections

    Severe skin infections, also known as Cellulitis

    Dental infections Pneumonia

    Do I Need a Prescription For Antibiotics?

    There are many topical antibiotic creams used for minor cuts, scrapes and burns that do not require a prescription. If you are looking to discuss stronger topical or oral antibiotics, you will need a prescription from a doctor.

    What are the Most Commonly Prescribed Antibiotics?

    There are over 100 types of antibiotics, each with different indications for treatment. Some common antibiotics prescribed include:



    Levofloxacin Amoxicillin Azithromycin Clindamycin Metronidazole

    All antibiotics have risks of use as well as benefits.  Antibiotics can cause other problems, including gut microbiome disturbance, side effects such as vomiting, and can interact with other medicines you take. Because of the complexity of oral antibiotic use, it is no surprise that you need a prescription from a medical doctor.

    Can I Get Antibiotics Without Seeing a Doctor?

    You can not get oral antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and penicillin, without talking to a doctor. That said, you are able to get antibiotics without seeing a doctor in person.

    A video or phone call is a great way to get prescribed antibiotics from the comfort of your home if it is felt to be needed. During an online consultation, a doctor can diagnose your infection and determine an appropriate treatment method, including antibiotics if necessary. Your antibiotic prescription will be electronically sent to your local pharmacy for pick up.

    Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

    Source : plushcare.com

    Can you buy antibiotics over the counter?

    Official answer: In general, over-the-counter (OTC) oral antibiotics are not approved in the U.S. However, there are a few OTC topical...

    Can you buy antibiotics over the counter?

    Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on March 31, 2022.

    Official answer

    by Drugs.com

    In general, over-the-counter (OTC) oral antibiotics are not approved in the U.S.

    However, there are a few OTC topical antibiotics that can be used on the skin to help prevent infections from minor scrapes, burns and wounds, such as:

    bacitracin/neomycin/polymyxin B (Neosporin and generics),

    bacitracin/polymyxin (Polysporin and generics), and

    neomycin/polymyxin/pramoxine (Neosporin Plus), which also contains pramoxine, a mild numbing medication.

    Over-the-counter antibacterials, such as benzoyl peroxide, is also available for those with mild acne. Benzoyl peroxide provides a drying effect and can be bought in a generic and as brand names like Clearskin, Oxy-10, and Proactiv.

    Related medical questions

    What is the difference between Polysporin and Neosporin?

    Drug information


    Bacitracin / Polymyxin B

    Benzoyl Peroxide

    Bacitracin / Neomycin / Polymyxin B

    Related support groups

    Polysporin (9 questions, 11 members)

    Neosporin (7 questions, 10 members)

    Bacitracin/Polymyxin B (1 questions, 3 members)

    Benzoyl Peroxide (1 questions, 22 members)

    Bacitracin/Neomycin/Polymyxin B (1 questions, 3 members)

    Medical Disclaimer

    Source : www.drugs.com

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