Gentamicin (Topical)

Sold under brand names like Garamycin, among others, gentamicin is an antibiotic drug used to fight different kinds of bacterial infections of the skin.


Gentamicin belongs to a group of drugs referred to as antibiotics. This drug's topical formulations are used to treat a variety of skin infections, such as burns and infections of the outside eye. Since this drug is a type of aminoglycoside, it works by stopping the harmful bacteria from producing more protein and end up killing it in the process. Gentamicin is available only with a doctor's prescription and usually comes in either a cream or ointment dosage forms.

Patients may experience kidney problems and inner ear problems from this drug. Many times, problems associated with the inner ear affect a person's balance and some patients may experience difficulty with hearing.

Other factors that may heighten the risk of inner ear damage among patients are if they've got a kidney dysfunction, high blood uric acid levels or a liver dysfunction. Inner ear damage may also be a big problem among the elderly, those taking long courses of therapy and those taking strong diuretics.

These problems may be irreversible and may cause harm to the baby if taken during pregnancy. However, this medicine appears to be safe for use during nursing or breastfeeding.

Conditions Treated?

  • Skin infection

Type Of Medicine?

  • Antibacterial medicine

Side Effects

For the consumer

Along with its many benefits, any drug may cause some unpleasant side effects in patients. Although not all of the below side effects may occur, any person affected may need medical attention. Check with your healthcare provider immediately if any of the below side effects occur:

  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Other sign of irritation not present before use of this particular medication

For Healthcare Professionals


Dermatologic side effects have rarely shown any severe photosensitization among patients. Photosensitization reactions couldn't be established with the topical use of this particular medicine, even after some patients earlier reported that they may have experienced some photosensitivity reactions from the drug before being exposed to ultraviolet radiation.


Some of the local irritation reported by patients suffering from dermatoses and using this drug didn't require immediate withdrawal of treatment. The same patients failed to show any signs of sensitization or irritation after patch testing this medicine on different patches of normal skin. Local side effects failed to occur in patients with dermatoses following treatment, who rarely showed any signs of irritations.

Other side effects not mentioned in this guide may occur in some patients. It's important for patients to check with their healthcare provider in case they experience such symptoms or any negative reactions from the drug. A patient may also call their doctor for medical advice about side effects, or may report them to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


The dose of this medication is usually different from person to person. Therefore, it's important for patients to follow their doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The below information provides only the average doses of this particular drug. If a patient's dose is different, they shouldn't change it without their healthcare provider's permission.

The amount of medicine a patient takes very much depends on the strength of the medicine. Moreover, the number of doses a person takes every day, the time allowed between doses and the period a patient should take the drug for depend on the health problem being treated.

For topical dosage forms (ointment or cream):

For bacterial infections

  • Adults and children about 1 year of age and over: Apply to the affected area of skin at least 3 4 times every day.


  • If a patient misses a dose of this drug, apply it as soon as possible.
  • If it's almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume the regular dosing schedule.
  • Do not double dose to catch up.
  • In case someone takes an overdose, call the poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to show or tell what was taken, in what quantities and when the particular event happened.


Although some drugs shouldn't be used together at all, sometimes the healthcare provider may use two different medicines together, even if an interaction might occur. On these occasions, the doctor may want to change the dose or take other precautions they deem it important to a patient's health. All the same, it's vital for patients to tell their healthcare provider if they're taking any other prescription or non-prescription drug. The below interactions are arranged on the basis of their potential significance and aren't necessarily all-inclusive.

  • Amikacin

Other Interactions

Some drugs shouldn't be used at or around the time of eating food or eating specific types of food, since a patient may experience interactions between the food and drugs. Mixing tobacco or alcohol with some drugs may also cause interactions to occur. It's important for patients to discuss with their healthcare specialists the use of this particular medicine with food, tobacco and alcohol.

Other Medical Problems

There is one particular disease interaction a patient may experience with gentamicin topical:

  • Burns


  • Use this medication as ordered or prescribed by the doctor, including following all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take this drug by mouth. Apply to the affected area of skin only.
  • Do not skip or miss doses.
  • Use for the particular time length given, even if the signs get better or clear.
  • Wash hands before and after use to avoid any contamination.
  • Clean affected area before use and make sure to dry well.
  • Place a thin layer of cream on the affected skin and massage gently.
  • A person may cover the treated area with a dressing if they wish to do so.
  • A patient should tell their healthcare provider or pharmacists about any other drugs they might be using besides gentamicin.
  • Do not use longer than the period given, or else a second infection may likely occur.
  • A patient should tell the doctor if they're pregnant or plan on getting pregnant, so that the nurse or doctor may tell them the benefits and risks involved under such circumstances.
  • A patient should tell the doctor if they're breastfeeding in order to know about the risks this may pose to the baby.
  • Do not start, stop or change the dose of this medicine without first checking with your doctor.
  • This drug shouldn't be used if a person has a history of hypersensitivity reactions, such as anaphylactic shock or other aminoglycosides.
  • If a patient gets any kind of fungi, skin irritation, sensitization or other severe side effects from this drug, they should discontinue the drug and use appropriate therapy.
  • Lastly, if a person's skin problem doesn't improve within a week or the area becomes worse, they should check with their doctor right away.


Store this drug in a closed container at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and direct light. Keep from freezing. Keep all drugs in a safe place and out of the reach of children and pets.

Don't keep outdated medicine or drug no longer needed inside a medicine cabinet. Check with the pharmacist about how to throw out drugs no longer needed.


Gentamicin is a wide spectrum antibiotic that provides highly effective topical treatment for both primary and secondary bacterial infections of the skin. This medicine can clear infections that may not otherwise respond to treatment with topical antibiotic preparations. Some common symptoms attributed to this drug include swelling, redness and itching. Patients are strongly advised to check with their healthcare professional if they notice any of these side effects.

Before taking this drug, a patient should tell their healthcare provider whether they're allergic to the drug or other medications, foods or other substances. They should also tell their doctor about some of the signs they usually get under an allergy attack -
Rash, itching, hives, shortness of breath, a cough and so on. It's also important to tell your healthcare provider about any other drugs you might be using and any health problems you have. Finally, a patient should make sure they first discuss with their doctor some of the risks and benefits a person may acquire after treatment.