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GPs told to stop fusidic acid in dermatitis

GPs must cut back drastically on prescribing fusidic acid for minor skin complaints or it will become useless for treating dangerous infections such as MRSA, experts warn.

The use of fusidic acid for topical treatment of skin infections and atopic dermatitis has doubled since 1995 despite no rise in the incidence of skin infections, according to Dr Jim Gray, consultant epidemiologist in the department of microbiology at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

He reported in the Archives of Disease in Childhood (January) that the rapid increase in resistance paralleled the rise in prescribing of fusidic acid and pointed to a study in Wales that found a direct association between prescribing practices and levels of resistance in different GP surgeries.

Dr Gray added: 'I suspect the increase in use is because of its availability in combination creams with steroids,' adding that most microbiologists think it should only be used alongside another antibiotic.

Oral or intravenous fusidic acid is important for treating severe staphylococcus infections and MRSA in combination with other antibiotics.

Dr Douglas Fleming, director of the Birmingham research unit of the RCGP and member of the Government's specialist advisory committee on antimicrobial resistance, questioned whether topical

antibiotics were needed for

minor skin infections and called on GPs to limit their use.

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