Gentamicin - Use | Dose | Side Effects

This article was medically reviewed by M.Pharm, Marko Tanaskovic on August 12, 2018. To read more about an author, click here.

Gentamicin ointment belongs to the group of aminoglycoside antibiotics for topical application and is used to reduce or completely eliminate the bacteria from the inflamed skin. Gentamycin works by preventing protein production within bacteria and that leads to their death. Gentamicin has a bactericidal effect mainly on gram negative bacteria.

Gentamicin ointment can be used in the treatment of the following infections:

  • Impetigo (bacterial infection of the skin that affects the surface layers of the skin on the face and neck, mostly in children and infants)
  • Superficial folliculitis (inflammation of the hair follicles)
  • Ecthyma (skin infection caused by streptococcus)
  • Furunculosis (deep infection of the hair follicles, which can lead to abscesses)
  • Sycosis of the chin (suppurative inflammation of the hair)


Gentamicin ointment is contraindicated in patients who are allergic to gentamicin or other aminoglycoside antibiotics.

Prolonged use of Gentamicin 0.1% ointment should be avoided because it can lead to an increased growth of non-susceptible organisms (e.g. fungi) which may lead to the appearance of skin superinfections. If you notice worsening of the symptoms or the occurrence of certain side effects, contact your doctor.

If administered orally, Gentamicin may exhibit toxic effects on the ears (ototoxicity) and kidneys (nephrotoxicity). Gentamicin ointment may cause ototoxicity and nephrotoxicity only if applied over large areas of the skin.

Gentamicin ointment should be cautiously administered in premature babies and infants. It should be administered cautiously in elderly patients because they are more sensitive to this drug and have a higher risk of hearing impairment.

Gentamicin ointment and its use during pregnancy and breastfeeding

There have been no studies done on the use of Gentamicin ointment during pregnancy and lactation. Talk to your doctor before you start applying this drug during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Overall, use of this drug over large areas of the skin should be avoided during pregnancy.

There are no relevant clinical data on use of Gentamicin 0.1% ointment during lactation. Therefore, you should avoid breastfeeding while applying this ointment.

How you should apply Gentamicin 0.1% ointment

Gentamicin 0.1% ointment is applied in a thin layer to the affected area three of four times a day. If you apply this ointment to treat impetigo you should first remove the crusts and then apply the ointment because thus will improve efficacy of the Gentamicin ointment.

Do not use Gentamicin 0.1% ointment longer than 7 days and never apply ointment on large areas of skin.

It can be applied regardless of the food.


Gentamicin mast should not be used concurrently with other drugs that can damage your hearing or kidney function.

Adverse effects

Only mild adverse effects have been reported (mainly redness and itching at the site of application). Contact sensitization to the drug is very rare. Application on the large areas of the skin can lead to absorption of the drug into the blood and this may damage the function of the kidneys and ears.

Information on this website are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.

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