Topical mupirocin treatment of impetigo is equal to oral erythromycin therapy

Arch Dermatol. 1989 Aug;125(8):1069-73.


Topical antimicrobial therapy has not been effective in the past against cutaneous bacterial infections. In this study, a new topical antibiotic ointment, mupirocin, was compared with oral erythromycin ethylsuccinate in the treatment of impetigo. Seventy-five patients clinically diagnosed as having impetigo and with positive cultures of Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, or both were examined in an investigator-blinded study. Patients used topical mupirocin applied three times daily or the usual oral dose of erythromycin ethylsuccinate (30 to 50 mg/kg per day). Patients' lesions were examined clinically and cultured bacteriologically on days 0, 3, and 8, and 1 week after treatment. Susceptibility testing was performed on pathogens isolated to determine antibiotic resistance. Mupirocin treatment produced similar clinical results to oral erythromycin and was superior in the eradication of S aureus, including antibiotic-resistant S aureus. These results show topical mupirocin to be a safe and effective alternative to oral antibiotic therapy in the treatment of impetigo.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Administration, Topical
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Erythromycin / administration & dosage
  • Erythromycin / therapeutic use*
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impetigo / drug therapy*
  • Impetigo / microbiology
  • Male
  • Mupirocin
  • Penicillin Resistance
  • Random Allocation
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / isolation & purification


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Fatty Acids
  • Erythromycin
  • Mupirocin