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Can you buy antibiotics over the counter?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 10, 2019.

Official Answer


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.

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