Can dressings soaked with polyhexanide reduce bacterial loads in full-thickness skin grafting? A randomized controlled trial

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Background Polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB)-based antiseptic solutions can reduce bacterial loads in different clinical settings and are believed to lower risk of infections. Objective We sought to assess the efficacy of a PHMB-based solution in lowering bacterial loads of full-thickness skin grafting wounds and the risk of surgical site infections (SSIs). Methods In this double-blinded clinical trial, 40 patients planned for facial full-thickness skin grafting were randomized 1:1 to receive tie-over dressings soaked with either PHMB-based solution or sterile water. Quantitative and qualitative bacterial analysis was performed on all wounds before surgery, at the end of surgery, and 7 days postoperatively. In addition, all patients were screened for nasal colonization of Staphylococcus aureus. Results Analysis of wounds showed no statistically significant difference in bacterial reductions between the groups. The SSI rates were significantly higher in the intervention group (8/20) than in the control group (2/20) (P = .028). Higher postoperative bacterial loads were a common finding in SSIs (P = .011). This was more frequent when S aureus was present postoperatively (P = .034), intraoperatively (P = .03), and in patients with intranasal S aureus colonization (P = .007). Limitations Assessment of SSIs is largely subjective. In addition, this was a single-center study and the total number of participants was 40. Conclusion Soaking tie-over dressings with PHMB solution in full-thickness skin grafting had no effect on postoperative bacterial loads and increased the risk of SSI development. The presence of S aureus intranasally and in wounds preoperatively and postoperatively increased postoperative bacterial loads, which in turn resulted in significantly more SSIs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1221-1228.e4
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Microbiology in the medical area
  • Dermatology and Venereal Diseases

Free keywords

  • bacteria
  • dermatologic surgery
  • pathogenesis
  • prevention
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • surgical site infections
  • wound infection


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