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Use of wound antiseptics in practice

Beata Mrozikiewicz-Rakowska, Debora Sanches Pinto, Ewa K. Stuermer, Harikrishna K. R. Nair, Johanna Sander, Johannes Matiasek, José Luis Lázaro-Martínez, Karen Ousey, Ojan Assadian, Paul J. Kim, Steven L. Percival
3 October 2023

Prevention, detection, treatment and management of wound infection remains a paramount concern for clinicians worldwide. Wound infection is a complex manifestation in which microorganisms outcompete the host immune system (Haalboom et al, 2019), and it is considered to be one of the most common and serious challenges hindering the wound healing process (Mota et al, 2021). Chronically infected wounds are associated with significant physical, emotional and economic burdens, and these are increasing due to an ageing population and rising prevalence of comorbidities (Zhu et al, 2022). Therefore, clinicians need to take a proactive approach to ensure the effective and sustainable management of wound infection in clinical practice.

The use of antiseptics to prevent and treat wound infection is increasingly being explored, due to the rapid spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and rising emergence of multidrug resistant bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus (Barrigah-Benissan et al, 2022). Early and judicious use of topical antimicrobial agents, such as antiseptics, may have an important role to play in limiting biofilm formation, including limiting regrowth and spread of infection (Schultz et al, 2017). Furthermore, advocating for the responsible use of antibiotics to preserve their effectiveness for generations to come is crucial.

To address these issues, an international group of experts convened for an online meeting in August 2023 to develop this international consensus document, focusing on the use of antiseptics in practice for the prevention and treatment of wound infection. 

This consensus document aims to:

  • Address the challenges and risks of infection in wound care
  • Consider experiences and practice around the world 
  • Provide an overview of the different antiseptics used in practice 
  • Focus on cleansing alongside antisepsis 
  • Provide guidance on the use of antiseptics in practice 
  • Reaffirm the importance of an antimicrobial stewardship-focused approach.

The guidance in this document aims to shed light on the potential benefits of using antiseptics to prevent and treat wound infection, alongside practical guidance on how to use them safely and effectively in clinical practice. There needs to be an environment that fosters behavioural change with a focus on sharing best practice, to ensure that infection prevention practices are being followed and interdisciplinary working is embraced. 

Harikrishna K. R. Nair (Chair)

Disclaimer: In our recently published consensus document ‘Use of wound antiseptics in practice’, an error has been identified necessitating its republication. Data related to hypochlorous acid (HOCl)/sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) has been removed from Table 1 as this data was derived from a source with methodology that differs from the remaining data in the table. We apologise for any confusion that may have been caused by this error.

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