Infections are less likely with a small, minor first-degree burn than with a second-, third-, or fourth-degree burn. Regardless of the severity of your burn, you should take infections seriously. Infections in burn wounds can delay healing, increase scarring, and can even be life-threatening. They can lead to sepsis, a blood infection which can be fatal.

There are various types of antibiotics for burn infections that your doctor might prescribe. The type and method of delivery depend on the severity of your infection.

Topical Antibiotics

Silver Sulfadiazine

Your doctor may use silver sulfadiazine, a topical cream applied directly to the burn wound, to prevent an infection or treat an infection that has already developed.

This is available by prescription only. You should follow your doctor’s orders to the letter when using silver sulfadiazine. Wear sterile gloves when handling this product. It is intended for external skin use only. Make sure you keep it out of your eyes, nose, mouth, and all body cavities.

Make sure the silver sulfadiazine cream is covering your burn at all times. Do not apply more often than your doctor tells you.

Side effects might include:

  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Fever
  • Skin rash
  • Aching joints
  • Sore throat
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising

If you suffer from pain, itching, or burning that does not go away, make an appointment. If you suffer any other side effects listed, call your doctor immediately.

Other Prescription Topical Antibiotics

Your doctor may prescribe a topical antibiotic cream or ointment to prevent or treat infection in your burn. Follow your doctor’s instructions to get the best result. Check to see if you are to wear sterile gloves when applying the prescription antibiotic cream or ointment.

If you suffer an allergic reaction, call your doctor or head to the emergency room (depending on the severity of the reaction).

Over-the-Counter Topical Antibiotics

There are many over the counter antibiotic creams and ointments available for use on burns. Remember to check with your doctor or treatment team before using an over the counter antibiotic cream or ointment on your burn. Having an allergic reaction to an ingredient in a cream or ointment can delay your healing.

Antibiotics Administered by IV

If your infection is especially severe, your doctor or treatment team may administer antibiotics to you by IV (intravenous) to ensure a quicker drug delivery, and to ensure you get as much of the antibiotic as possible (because pills must pass through the digestive system, patients do not always get the amount of the drug necessary to fight the infection).

To administer antibiotics via IV, your doctor or treatment team will insert a needle into your arm. Depending on how well you responded to IV treatment, you might need to continue treatment at home. This could be through IV treatment or antibiotic pills.

Oral Antibiotics

These are available by prescription only. If you received antibiotics by IV, your doctor might give you a prescription for antibiotic pills when you go home. You should take antibiotic pills as directed by your doctor.

How long do antibiotics take to work?

How long antibiotics take to work will depend on the severity of the infection. In some cases, your infection will clear up in four days; in others, it might take a week or two. However, even if your infection clears in two days, take every dose prescribed by your doctor. If you stop your antibiotics early, you risk leaving deadly bacteria alive and in your system.

The only time you should stop taking your antibiotics is if you have an adverse reaction; however, you should contact your doctor first.

What type of antibiotic should you use?

You should check with your doctor or treatment team about which type of antibiotic, if any, would be best for treating your burn infection. There are many options available. Do not start an over-the-counter antibiotic treatment before speaking with your doctor.

For more information about burn care for yourself or a loved one, check out our blog. And if somebody else is responsible for your burn injury, you may be eligible to file a claim for your damages, including the cost of antibiotics. Call our lawyer referral specialists at 844-549-8774.