Quantitative evaluation of dermatological antiseptics

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Abstract

Topical antiseptics are frequently used in dermatological management, yet evidence for the efficacy of traditional generic formulations is often largely anecdotal. We tested the in vitro bactericidal activity of four commonly used topical antiseptics against Staphylococcus aureus, using a modified version of the European Standard EN 1276, a quantitative suspension test for evaluation of the bactericidal activity of chemical disinfectants and antiseptics. To meet the standard for antiseptic effectiveness of EN 1276, at least a 5 log10 reduction in bacterial count within 5 minutes of exposure is required. While 1% benzalkonium chloride and 6% hydrogen peroxide both achieved a 5 log10 reduction in S. aureus count, neither 2% aqueous eosin nor 1 : 10 000 potassium permanganate showed significant bactericidal activity compared with control at exposure periods of up to 1 h. Aqueous eosin and potassium permanganate may have desirable astringent properties, but these results suggest they lack effective antiseptic activity, at least against S. aureus.

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