Introduction to Topical Antimicrobials and Their Applications

Authored by: Steven Ripa , Nancy Bruno , Robert F. Reder , Renate Casillis , Robert I. Roth

Handbook of Topical Antimicrobials

Print publication date:  September  2002
Online publication date:  September  2002

Print ISBN: 9780824707880
eBook ISBN: 9780203909256
Adobe ISBN:


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Antisepsis has its roots in an ancient effort to prevent food spoilage. Smoking of meats, a process that inhibited bacterial-mediated suppuration, was effective because creosote and other phenols inhibited bacterial and fungal growth. For centuries preceding the development of the germ theory of disease and recognition of the pathogenicity of bacteria and other microbial organisms, chemical treatment of wounds had been employed empirically to control suppuration. The early uses of acidic solutions such as wine and vinegar and halogenated compounds containing chlorine (bleaches) and iodine were empiric additions to wound dressings for preventing tissue decay. Many germicidal solutions were in clinical use centuries before microorganisms were discovered and subsequently recognized to negatively impact surgical outcomes and wound healing. When Lister recognized the biological roles of microbes in causing destruction of human tissue in wounds, it was a brief step to using antiseptics, beginning with phenol, for the treatment of hands, surgical instruments, and patient skin. Because the demonstration that sanitization of inert materials used for invasive procedures and aseptic surgical technique greatly improved clinical outcomes, clinicians have come to recognize that a critical component of wound care is infection control.

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