Can I use antibiotics to treat a viral skin infection?

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No. You cannot use antibiotics to treat a viral infection regardless of the location on the body.

You can't use antibiotics to treat a viral skin infection. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria, and using them to treat a viral infection will not only fail to help the infection, but may also cause further problems. For example, antibiotics may kill helpful bacteria in your body that your system needs; any disease-causing bacteria that are present in your system may develop resistance to improperly used antibiotics, as well. This is important because bacterial infections that become resistant to antibiotics are harder to treat. However, if you have a bacterial infection along with a viral infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for the bacterial infection.

Continue Learning about Viral Infections

Viral Infections

Viral Infections

Viral infections like herpes simplex, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), chicken pox and rotavirus are infections caused by a virus instead of a bacterium. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics, but some specific viruses ...

like influenza A and B can be treated with certain antiviral medications. Most commonly, treatment for viral infections includes drinking lots of fluids, getting rest, eating well and letting the illness run its course.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.