Antiseptics on Wounds: An Area of Controversy

Anna Drosou, MD, Anna Falabella, MD, Robert S. Kirsner, MD


Wounds. 2003;15(5) 

In This Article

Acetic Acid

Acetic acid is frequently used in wounds as a 0.25-percent or 0.5-percent solution. It is bactericidal against many Gram-positive and Gram-negative organisms, especially Pseudomonas aeruginosa. No delay of reepithelization has been found in animal and human models.[52] Although one study found that acetic acid initially delayed reepithelization, after the eighth day, this effect did not persist. In the same study, it was not shown to influence tensile wound strength.[29] In two human uncontrolled studies, acetic acid was found to be beneficial in wounds infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa.[83,84] In a study with patients with venous leg ulcers,[85] gauze dressings wetted with acetic acid were shown to effectively decrease the number of Staphylococcus aureus and Gram-negative rods. Pseudomonas was not reduced significantly.

Although several in-vitro studies found acetic acid to be cytotoxic,[31,86] the in-vivo studies do not confirm these findings. The authors believe that acetic acid can continue being used topically in contaminated wounds where an agent is needed in order to eliminate the chances of infection ( Table 4 ).


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