British Society of Cutaneous Allergy (BCSA)


What are the aims of this patient information leaflet?

This leaflet has been written to help you understand more about your contact allergy. It tells you what a contact allergy is, what causes this allergy and what you can do about it.

What is contact allergy?

Dermatitis, also known as eczema, describes a type of inflammation of the skin. Contact dermatitis or contact eczema is a term used when this inflammation is caused by direct or indirect skin contact with something in your environment. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when your immune system causes allergy to a very specific chemical or substance that has been in contact with the skin.

What causes your specific allergy?

Your patch tests indicate that you have a contact allergy to neomycin.

What is neomycin?

Neomycin is an antibiotic found in creams, ointments, eardrops and eye preparations or, rarely, taken as a tablet. It may also be found in animal feed and veterinary products.

What are some products that contain neomycin?

  • Otomize ear spray
  • Otosporin ear drops
  • Maxitrol ear drops and eye ointment
  • Naseptin cream
  • Neomycin cream
  • Betamethasone and neomycin (cream and ointment)
  • Clobetasol with neomycin and nystatin (cream and ointment)
  • Synalar N cream and ointment
  • Neomycin tablets

Remember, always check the label, these lists can never be complete and ingredients change.

How can I manage my allergy?

This means that you should avoid putting products containing neomycin onto your skin in the future.

Neomycin is closely related to other antibiotics in the same aminoglycoside group which includes gentamicin and framycetin so these should be avoided too. Gentamicin can be given as an injected antibiotic and it is particularly important to avoid this as you may develop a widespread skin reaction.

Neomycin is found in trace amounts in some vaccines however current Department of Health advice is that people who have contact dermatitis to neomycin should go ahead with the vaccination. Only those with severe symptoms of anaphylaxis should avoid neomycin-containing vaccines.

Self-care (what can I do?)

Always check the ingredient listing on the product, package or package insert as these lists can never be complete and ingredients change. This is particularly important for any products purchased outside the EU where some allergens may not be banned.

Created: 2016