How to Get Over-the-Counter Antibiotics Without Going to a Doctor?

how to get over the counter antibiotics without going to a doctor
Submitted and Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Mavra Farrukh


Antibiotics are frequently used to treat bacterial infections. But is getting over the counter antibiotics a possibility? That is a pressing question indeed.

Antibiotics are some of the most potent and quickest remedies against harmful bacteria. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat UTIs, URTIs, ear infections, stomach infections and STDs.

Mostly topical antibiotics are available over the counter, but most oral antibiotics require a doctor’s prescription. This article will discuss over-the-counter antibiotics and those that require a prescription. 

Can You Get Antibiotics Over the Counter?

There are options for antibiotics that you can buy over the counter. These include topical antibiotics such as antibiotics ointment over the counter. These can be found at a pharmacy or a local store. Although, oral antibiotics do require a prescription from a doctor.

Antibiotics can be administered through different routes in and on the body. There are classified as less invasive and invasive methods, and the route depends on the condition or type of infection. 

The four main routes to administer antibiotics include: 

  • Topical 
  • Oral
  • Intramuscular (IM) 
  • Intravenous (IV)

Topical over-the-counter antibiotics

The topical route comes under the less invasive route. Many topical creams or ointments are available over-the-counter medicine for bacterial infection. These topical antibiotics are applied to the skin to treat minor wounds, scrapes, cuts, burns and acne. The most common topical over-the-counter antibiotics include:

  • Polysporin (bacitracin/polymyxin B)
  • Neosporin (bacitracin/neomycin/polymyxin B)
  • Proactiv/Clearskin (Benzoyl peroxide)

Some generic brands of topical antibiotics have been formulated into a cream or ointment. These can be directly applied to the skin and are referred to as otc antibiotics for skin infections.

More potent topical antibiotics require a doctor’s prescription. For example, mupirocin ointment over the counter and metronidazole cream over the counter are unavailable and require a prescription. These are used for the management of severe infections, typically those not responding to over-the-counter topical antibiotics. 

Oral, intravenous, and intramuscular antibiotics require a prescription and are not available over the counter. Oral antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat bacterial infections and are taken by mouth.

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Different Classes of Antibiotics 

Several classes of antibiotics available treat different types of bacterial infections. The treatment depends on the type of bacterial infection/disease or condition and the severity of the illness. The drugs are classified as follows:


These work by preventing the formation of the bacterial cell wall and hence halting the growth. 


This class of drugs prevents bacteria from multiplying by disabling the bacteria from making proteins.


The drugs prevent the formation of the bacterial cell wall. 


These prevent the bacteria from making their DNA. That prevents further replication. 


This class works by stopping the bacteria from multiplying, mainly by inhibiting the production of DNA and proteins.


These drugs stop the bacteria from making proteins, thus halting and destroying them. 

What conditions are antibiotics used for?

Some common illnesses or infections that antibiotics can treat include:

  • Acne
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Strep throat
  • Sinus infections
  • Conjunctivitis 
  • Otitis media 
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
  • Dental infections and gum disease
  • Skin or soft tissue infections such as cellulitis 
  • Bladder and kidney infections
  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
  • Bacterial vaginosis

Sharing antibiotics or taking antibiotics prescribed to someone else for a similar or different condition is not the best decision. Similarly, the same antibiotics cannot be used each time as they may not be the proper medication for the infection. 

Do I need a Prescription for Antibiotics?

Antibiotics also referred to as antibacterials, are potent medications that destroy bacteria or halt their growth. Many topical over-the-counter medicines for infection are used to treat minor cuts, scrapes and burns. A prescription isn’t usually required for these. Although, for more potent topical or oral antibiotics, a prescription from a doctor is necessary. Despite the contrary belief, oral antibiotics do require a prescription. There aren’t any over-the-counter antibiotics for strep throat, otc antibiotics for tooth infection, or over-the-counter antibiotics for covid. 

Your doctor will enquire about your symptoms and medical history and may order additional tests to determine the best antibiotics to help treat your condition.

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What are the Most Commonly Prescribed Antibiotics?

There are numerous types of antibiotics. Your doctor will prescribe the one that is best suited to treat the infection. Some commonly prescribed antibiotics include:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Azithromycin
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Levofloxacin
  • Clindamycin
  • Metronidazole
  • Doxycycline

All antibiotics have certain benefits and side effects. Antibiotics are notorious for causing gut microbiome imbalance, resulting in gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, nausea or diarrhea. Additionally, they can interact with other medications. Therefore, a prescription is required considering the complexity of oral antibiotics use.

What is the strongest antibiotic for bacterial infection?

Different antibiotics are effective against various bacteria. That is why, for specific targeted treatment, it is vital to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and the most appropriate treatment.

Although certain antibiotics are preferred over others, they are effective against multiple bacteria and can treat a wide range of ailments. Antibiotics are usually specific for a particular type of bacteria and, therefore, cannot be interchangeably used to treat all kinds of bacterial infection.

Some oral antibiotics commonly prescribed include:


This antibacterial drug can be prescribed alongside other medications to treat an infection. This comes under the class of penicillin medicine. Unfortunately, amoxicillin over the counter is not available. 


Ceftriaxone is typically prescribed for severe bacterial infections, namely pneumonia or meningitis. This antibiotic is also given before surgery to help prevent infections. 


This antibiotic comes under the class of drugs called fluoroquinolones. These are mainly used to treat bacterial infections, including bronchitis and respiratory tract infections. However, it is less commonly prescribed due to its widely experienced side effects, such as headaches, numbness, etc.


This antibiotic halts bacterial growth. It is used to treat severe or rare infections. 


This antibiotic belongs to the class of cephalosporins and is widely prescribed for adults and children. Commonly cephalexin is used to treat UTIs, ear infections, and bone infections.


Doxycycline treats many conditions, such as acne, chlamydia, Lyme disease, bacterial pneumonia and syphilis.

It has been established that this antibiotic may also have anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it is prescribed to treat or prevent a dermatological infection.


This antibiotic treats digestive infections, vaginal bacterial infections and STDs. Flagyl is a well known brand name for metronidazole. 

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Why Do You Need a Prescription For Oral Antibiotics?

  • To prevent misuse of antibiotics: Taking oral antibiotics when not required can cause more harm than good. It causes the bacteria to mutate and develop antibiotic resistance. Hence, it is best to let your doctor assess your condition and decide the most appropriate antibiotic for you. 
  • Antibiotics treat different bacterial infections: Different types of antibiotics target different bacteria. There are specific antibiotics for specific ailments; therefore, you must see a doctor for a prescription.
  • Antibiotics have side effects and interactions: To prevent unnecessary side effects and drug interactions, an evaluation by a physician is required. This helps ensure you are not taking an antibiotic that can potentially be dangerous. Moreover, it will help prevent side effects as you will be monitored throughout treatment. 

Antibiotic Resistance

Unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions have given rise to an antibiotic resistance problem. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are thriving and are no longer susceptible to common antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance can increase the incidence of hospitalizations and may result in death. To reduce the chances of developing antibiotic resistance, taking the medication as directed is advisable. This will help eradicate the bacteria instead of producing antibiotic-resistant strains.

Misuse of Antibiotics 

Taking antibiotics when they have not been prescribed to you or using some other antibiotics to treat every condition classifies as misuse. It not only fails to treat the underlying infection but increases the chances of patients developing potentially life-threatening side effects. Side effects of antibiotic misuse can include rashes, nausea, diarrhoea or severe allergic reaction. Rarely, some cases of antibiotic abuse may result in an entirely new infection that can contribute to additional stress on the body. 

It is essential to take antibiotics as prescribed by your physician. In addition, please do not share your medication with them with others, as every person may not respond similarly and may have medical allergies that you are unaware of. Similarly, do not consume medication that was prescribed to someone else. Lastly, do not save pills for later use. Take medicine for the duration that it is prescribed for.

Once the infection clears completely, the antibiotic can be discontinued as directed by your physician.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Frequent use of antibiotics can get rid of good bacteria in your gut and result in diarrhea or vomiting. In addition, some individuals can develop an allergic reaction to a particular drug. If you think an antibiotic is not working for your body or giving you severe side effects, seek medical attention immediately. 

Some symptoms that warrant an immediate check-up include:

  • Feeling light-headed
  • Breathing difficulty or wheezing
  • Fast heart rate
  • Clammy skin
  • Confusion
  • Feeling faint or loss of consciousness

How to get antibiotics without seeing a doctor?

Topical antibiotics may be available over the counter, but when looking for oral antibiotics, such as amoxicillin, azithromycin, doxycycline or many others without seeing a doctor, your options are no longer limited. You can get antibiotics without seeing a doctor in person by consulting our doctor at Your Doctors Online, who will be able to prescribe the best antibiotics according to your condition. During an online consultation, our doctor will take a detailed history in order to diagnose your infection and determine the best treatment. If antibiotics are prescribed, your prescription will be sent to the pharmacy of your choice. 

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FAQs About Over the counter antibiotics Answered by Your Doctors Online Team

Is there an antibiotic you can get over the counter?

There are antibiotics that you can get over the counter. These include topical antibiotics such as polysporin, Neosporin etc. These can be found at any local drug store or pharmacy.

Can I take Tylenol with amoxicillin?

Yes, taking Tylenol along with amoxicillin is considered safe as they don’t have any interaction. 

What is the closest over-the-counter drug to antibiotics?

Topical antibiotics available over the counter include:
Benzoyl Peroxide

Can you get amoxicillin over the counter?

You cannot get oral antibiotics without a prescription. Amoxicillin is an oral antibiotic and is not available over the counter. 

What can I substitute for antibiotics?

Some substitutes for antibiotics or natural options to consider include:
Myrrh extract

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