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A Critical Discussion of the Use of Antiseptics in Acute Traumatic Wounds

Robert G. Smith DPM, RPh, CPed1
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  • 1 Private practice, Shoe String Podiatry, 22 Park Terrence, Ormond Beach, FL 32141.
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Approximately 10 million patients with traumatic wounds are treated in US emergency departments annually. The practice of wound cleansing or antiseptic management has a dichotomous history anchored in tradition and science. The merits of antiseptic fluid irrigation of traumatic wounds have received little scientific study. The purpose of this article is to critically evaluate the potential harm to patient outcome by the use of antiseptics on acute wounds. First, animal and cell culture data that describe the effects of topical antiseptics on wound healing are offered. Second, human case studies are presented to illustrate the potential harm of the indiscriminate use of antiseptics. Finally, data from previously published reviews are presented and evaluated for clinically based evidence to justify the current practice of antiseptic use in acute traumatic wounds. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 95(2): 148–153, 2005)