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Study: Antibiotic Ointments May Aid Spread of MRSA

Researchers Suggest That Antibiotic Ointments May Be a Factor in Spread of Strain Called USA300

Advice to Consumers

Until more is known, it's tough to know what to do about antibiotic ointment, which is a staple in many first-aid kits.

If antibiotic resistance is a concern, petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, might work just as well, says Patrick S. Romano, MD, professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of California at Davis.

"The primary effect of the ointment is probably to act as a physical barrier to bacterial entry and as a moisturizer," Romano says in an email.  Cuts and scrapes that are kept moist heal faster, he says.

"Petroleum jelly would probably work just as well for this purpose," he says, without causing resistance.

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