Antiseptics on wounds: An area of controversy

Anna Drosou, Anna Falabella, Robert S. Kirsner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Antiseptics have long and commonly been used on wounds to prevent or treat infection. However, citing cytotoxicity data, many authors have advised against their use on open wounds. This article discusses antiseptics and their use on open wounds, as well reviews relevant animal studies and clinical trials examining the effects of commonly used antiseptics, including iodine compounds (povidone iodine and cadexomer iodine), chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide, acetic acid, and silver compounds. This article examines their effects on wound healing and reepithelization and their efficacy on reducing bacterial number in wounds and incidence of wound infections. The authors found despite cytotoxicty data, most antiseptics have not been shown to clearly impede healing, especially newer formulations like cadexomer iodine (which speeds healing) and novel silver delivery systems. These compounds appear to be relatively safe and efficient in preventing infection in human wounds. Given this review, the role of antiseptics on wounds and their role in wound care management should be reconsidered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-166
Number of pages18
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Medical–Surgical


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