Does Erythromycin ophthalmic ointment expire? 

Does Erythromycin ophthalmic ointment expire? 

Yes, Erythromycin ophthalmic ointment does expire. The ointment is usually stable during its shelf-life, but once the tube is opened, it is not recommended to use it for longer than a month. 

This is because when the tube is opened, the ointment gets exposed to the environment. It also depends on how well you use and store the preparation. 

Erythromycin is an antibiotic and it is only applied to the eyes when you have an ongoing bacterial infection. Ophthalmic preparations should only be used if they are sterile, regardless of the active drug added to them. 

Such formulations are generally at higher risk of bacterial contamination. Since the eyes are delicate and more susceptible to harmful effects, ophthalmic solutions should never be used past the expiration date. However, expired Erythromycin should never be used, regardless of the dosage form.

What are the dangers associated with the use of expired Erythromycin ophthalmic ointment? 

The most important concern when it comes to using expired Erythromycin ophthalmic ointment is its impaired sterility. The ointment may become contaminated, especially if it is not used or stored properly. 

If you put this ointment in your eyes, you will be exposing your eyes to all sorts of bacteria present in the expired ointment. This can make your infection much worse. 

Even if the ointment is not contaminated, the expired one can not help you achieve the antibacterial effect you’re looking for. This can also result in the worsening of your infection, as your antibiotic will not fight against the infection-causing bacteria. 

This is why it is best to not apply an expired Erythromycin ointment in your eye as it’s not best to let the infection spread or affect your vision (1). 

What to do if you have accidentally used expired Erythromycin ointment?

If you have accidentally used expired Erythromycin ointment, immediately rinse your eyes with clean water. If the ointment is not contaminated, it will not harm your eyes. However, a contaminated ointment can make your infection spread. 

If you experience any kind of side effects in your eyes, like burning sensation, itching, or pain, or if your eyes start to become watery, immediately consult your healthcare provider. 

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Don’t Be Tempted to Use Expired Medicines [Internet]. Silver Spring (MD): U.S. Food and Drug Administration; 2021 [cited 2022 Oct 19]. Available from: