Nitrofurazone (Topical)

Nitrofurazone treats burns by inhibiting the activity of infection-causing, gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria on the wound.


Nitrofurazone is a topical medication that is sold under the brand name Furacin. It is used to treat burns that have become infected, as well as skin infections that develop as a result of skin grafts. Applied directly on to the skin or placed on a gauze pad that covers the skin, nitrofurazone works by inhibiting bacterial enzymes, especially those involved in aerobic and anaerobic breakdown of pyruvates and glucose. This activity affects pyruvate dehydrogenase, glutathione reductase, malate dehydrogenase, and pyruvate decarboxylase.

Nitrofurazone is available only with the healthcare provider's prescription and comes in the following dosage forms:

  • Solution
  • Ointment
  • Cream

Conditions Treated By Nitrofurazone

Type Of Medication

  • Topical anti-infective agent

Nitrofurazone side effects

Along with its intended effects, nitrofurazone may cause some unwanted side effects. Some side effects are not life-threatening and will often go away as the body gets used to the medication. In addition, your healthcare provider will advise you on how to manage these side effects and reduce their severity. However, other side effects tend to be severe and may require medical attention. Check with your healthcare immediately when you experience the following nitrofurazone side effects.

  • Skin rashes on and around the treated area
  • Encrusted, scaly, and oozing skin
  • Scales on the skin
  • Stinging oozes

Less common side effects include

  • Redness
  • Itching and burning sensations
  • Skin rashes
  • Swelling or soreness on the treated spot
  • Cough or hoarseness
  • Dry skin
  • Fever and chills
  • Rash with flat or raised lesions on the skin around the treated area

Ingesting this medication can cause adverse side effects. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms of nitrofurazone after swallowing this medication.

  • Blurry vision
  • Stomach or abdominal cramps
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Convulsions
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or faintness
  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Fast or weak pulse
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sunken eyes
  • Unusual fatigue and general weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Wheezing
  • Weight loss
  • Thirst
  • Sweating
  • Rapid breathing
  • Wrinkled skin

Call your healthcare provider immediately for advice concerning these side effects. You may also report the side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Nitrofurazone dosage

Use nitrofurazone as directed by your healthcare provider. Do not apply more of it or leave it on your skin for a longer period than as advised by your healthcare provider.

Nitrofurazone is meant for topical (external) use only. Do not ingest or get it into contact with any bodily openings, such as the mouth, ears, eyes, nose, vagina, or anus. If it accidentally gets into contact with these body parts, be sure to rise immediately with flowing water.

Nitrofurazone dosage varies from patient to patient based on a number of factors such as the severity of the burn under treatment. Provided below is information on the average nitrofurazone dosing. Should your healthcare provider recommend a different dose, do not change it unless advised otherwise by your doctor.

Usually, the amount of medicine you take depends on the strength of the medication. Additionally, the number of doses you require on a daily basis, the time allowed between the doses, and the duration you take the medication depends on the nature and severity of the problem for which you are using this medication.

  • Cream dosage form

Treating burns and skin infections

Adult dosage: Apply nitrofurazone directly to the lesion or place on a glaze that covers the lesion once per day or every few days depending on the severity of the wound and the dressing technique of the affected area.

Toddler dosage The use and dosage must be determined by the healthcare provider

  • For soluble dressing form

Treating burns and infections on the skin

Adult dosage' Apply nitrofurazone directly to the lesion or place a gauze that covers the lesion, depending on the severity of the wound and the dressing technique of the area under treatment.

Toddler dosage' Nitrofurazone use and dosage in toddlers must be determined by the healthcare provider

  • For topical solutions

Treating burns

Adult dosage' Apply nitrofurazone directly to the burnt area

Toddler dosage' Use and dosage of nitrofurazone solution in toddlers must be determined by the healthcare provider.

Missed dose

In an event of a missed dose, apply nitrofurazone as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, do skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosing schedule. You do not have to double dose to make up for the missed dose.


In an event of overdose, with life-threatening symptoms like breathing difficulty and passing out, call 911 immediately. You may also report overdose to the poison control center at 1800-222-1222

Nitrofurazone interactions

While certain medications should never be used concurrently, in other cases two or more medications may be combined even if there is a risk of interaction. Under such circumstances, your healthcare provider may recommend a change in dosage, or suggest appropriate precautions while using those medications. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you are under any medication (both prescription and non-prescription) such as over-the counter medications, multivitamins, and supplements, as well as herbal medications.

Interactions with alcohol, tobacco, and food

Certain foods should be avoided while on some medications since this might cause interaction. Using alcohol and tobacco products with certain medications may also trigger an interaction. Discuss with your healthcare provider the use of nitrofurazone with food, alcohol and tobacco products. Specifically, avoid using alcohol-based oils while on nitrofurazone as they might affect the efficiency of the medication.

Other medical problems

Certain pre-existing medical conditions may affect the use, and efficiency, of nitrofurazone. Be sure to inform your healthcare provider if you have any of the following medical conditions, especially:

Kidney infection' Certain nitrofurazone ingredients like polyethylene glycols, which are present in the soluble dressing and topical solution, may be absorbed through the skin. Patients with kidney function impairment may experience difficulty eliminating these compounds from the body, and this may increase the risk and severity of nitrofurazone's side effects. Patients with kidney failures should consider using nitrofurazone creams as they do not contain polyethylene glycol.

Nitrofurazone warnings

Continued use of nitrofurazone may trigger overgrowth of non-susceptible organisms like pseudomonas and fungi. The patient should discontinue nitrofurazone immediately if this occurs. Symptoms of pseudomonas and fungi overgrowth include irritation, development of super-infections, and sensitivity.

Nitrofurazone ingestion has been associated with serious interactions and contraindications. Patients with hypertension, diabetes, and kidney infection should be on the lookout for nitrofurazone interactions. Pregnant women, as well as patients with hepatitis (liver disease), should use this medication under close supervision from their healthcare providers.

Inform your doctor if you have experienced allergic reactions to nitrofurazone or any other medication. Also, inform your healthcare provider if you have any other forms of allergic reactions including food, preservative, dye, or animal allergies.

There are not studies on the use, and effects, of nitrofurazone in children. Thus, the use of this medication on young children should only be done upon consultation, and approval, by a healthcare provider. The same applies to the use of this medication in older patients as well as patients with a weaker immune system.

Consult your healthcare provider before taking any vaccines while on nitrofurazone as the medication may affect the efficiency of some vaccines.

Nitrofurazone storage

Nitrofurazone should be stored at room temperature (20 to 30 degrees C). Keep the medication away from pets and children. This drug is very harmful when swallowed, especially to humans. Thus, it should be stored in the original container to avoid accidental ingestion. Do not transfer it into other containers like medicine bottles and measuring cups that may be mistaken for other medication.

Keep the medication away from direct sunlight, heat, and moisture. Additionally, keep the medicine from freezing. Keep away from alkaline materials like ammonia and soap. Avoid keeping outdated medications longer than needed.

Do not flush the medication down the sink or toilet unless advised to do so. Consult your pharmacist on how to properly dispose of expired medications or medications that you no longer use.


Nitrofurazone, sold under the brand name Furacin, is a local antibacterial agent. It is used for treatment of a wide range of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It is also used to treat mixed, superficial skin infections. It is specifically effective for treating second and third-degree burns as well as infections that result from skin grafting. The drug acts slowly and requires at least 24 hours for it to properly take effect. As such, nitrofurazone treatment should never last less than 2 to 3 days.

While nitrofurazone is a great medication for treating infections resulting from skin burns, it also comes with its share of side effects. Some of these side effects can give rise to complications like Thromboembolic disorder and Peripheral neuropathy. However, most symptomatic adverse reactions associated with this medication are tolerable and tend to go away as the patient adjusts to the medication. That said, it is important that you seek medical attention in an event of severe nitrofurazone side effects like allergic skin reactions, shortened breath, chest pain, and loss of vision.