Is It Safe To Use Expired Neosporin?

Neosporin is an over-the-counter ointment that contains antibiotics designed to prevent bacterial skin infections in small surface injuries, as per WebMD. The active antibiotics contained in the medication include bacitracin, polymyxin, and neomycin. It's important to note that Neosporin will not be effective for large or deep skin injuries or infections caused by fungi.

This topical medication is fairly simple to use. It's important to properly clean the affected area of the skin, as well as thoroughly wash your hands before applying the cream. You only need a small amount of Neosporin to effectively treat the injury — enough to rub in a thin layer across the area. You should repeat this up to three times a day. Covering the area with a bandage following application is optional. If the condition doesn't improve or worsens after a few days of this procedure, it's likely that the ointment won't be enough to heal your skin, and you'll need to contact your doctor.

Just like with any other medication, Neosporin has an expiration date, which can be found printed on the tube itself, as per Consumer Reports. It's important to store this medication properly in order to ensure its longevity, which means keeping it in a cool and dry location (not your bathroom medicine cabinet). But is Neosporin safe to use even after the expiration date passes? Here's what we know.

Using Neosporin after its expiration date won't likely harm you

It is safe to continue using Neosporin after it expires, as long as you throw it away no later than a year after this date passes, explains Consumer Reports. The expiration date is based on product testing results carried out by the manufacturer in order to determine how long the medication can last while maintaining its potency. Just because this date has passed doesn't mean the medication automatically becomes ineffective; however, it may be less effective.

When it comes time to dispose of your expired Neosporin, you will need to do so safely. One way to do so is through the manufacturer's partnership with TerraCycle, a company that takes used packaging and upcycles it into other products, as explained by Neosporin's press release. If sending your expired tubes of Neosporin to TerraCycle isn't an option, you can also mix the leftover ointment with coffee grinds or cat litter, place the mixture in a tightly sealed plastic bag, and throw it in your normal trash bin, explains U.S. News & World Report.

Although Neosporin can be safely used within a year after its expiration date, not all medications can be, so don't take this as a hard and fast rule applicable to all expired products (via Consumer Reports). For example, if you have a medication containing the antibiotic, tetracycline, you will need to safely dispose of it after it expires, given its tendency to become toxic past that date.