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Antimicrobial activity of topical skin pharmaceuticals - an in vitro study

Journal article
Authors Mikael Alsterholm
Nahid Karami
Jan Faergemann
Published in Acta Dermato-Venereologica
Volume 90
Issue 3
Pages 239-245
ISSN 0001-5555
Publication year 2010
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Dermatology and Venereology
Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Pages 239-245
Language en
Keywords Administration, Cutaneous, Adrenal Cortex Hormones/pharmacology, Anti-Bacterial Agents/pharmacology, Anti-Infective Agents, Local/administration & dosage/*pharmacology, Antifungal Agents/pharmacology, Candida albicans/drug effects/growth & development, Drug Combinations, Drug Resistance, Multiple, Bacterial, Escherichia coli/drug effects/growth & development, Microbial Sensitivity Tests, Ointments, Staphylococcus aureus/drug effects/growth & development, Staphylococcus epidermidis/drug effects/growth & development, Streptococcus pyogenes/drug effects/growth & development
Subject categories Pharmaceutical microbiology, Dermatology and Venereal Diseases


The aim of this study was to investigate the antimicrobial activity of currently available topical skin pharmaceuticals against Candida albicans, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Streptococcus pyogenes. The agar dilution assay was used to determine the minimal inhibitory concentration for cream formulations and their active substances. Corticosteroid formulations with the antiseptics clioquinol or halquinol were active against all microbes. The hydrogen peroxide formulation was primarily active against staphylococci. Clotrimazole, miconazole and econazole showed an effect against staphylococci in addition to their effect on C. albicans. In contrast, terbinafine had no antibacterial effect. Fusidic acid was active against staphylococci, with slightly weaker activity against S. pyogenes and no activity against C. albicans or E. coli. In summary, some topical skin pharmaceuticals have broad antimicrobial activity in vitro, clioquinol and halquinol being the most diverse. In limited superficial skin infection topical treatment can be an alternative to systemic antibiotics and should be considered. With the global threat of multi-resistant bacteria there is a need for new, topical, non-resistance-promoting, antimicrobial preparations for the treatment of skin infections.

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