Chitosan gel films were successfully obtained by evaporation cast from chitosan solutions in aqueous acidic solutions of organic acids (lactic and acetic acid) as gel film bandages, with a range of additives that directly influence film morphology and porosity. We show that the structure and composition of a wide range of 128 thin gel films, is correlated to the antimicrobial properties, their biocompatibility and resistance to biodegradation. Infrared spectroscopy and solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to correlate film molecular structure and composition to good antimicrobial properties against 10 of the most prevalent Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. Chitosan gel films reduce the number of colonies after 24 h of incubation by factors of ∼105–107 CFU/mL, compared with controls. For each of these films, the structure and preparation condition has a direct relationship to antimicrobial activity and effectiveness. These gel film bandages also show excellent stability against biodegradation with lysozyme under physiological conditions (5% weight loss over a period of 1 month, 2% in the first week), allowing use during the entire healing process. These chitosan thin films and subsequent derivatives hold potential as low-cost, dissolvable bandages, or second skin, with antimicrobial properties that prohibit the most relevant intrahospital bacteria that infest burn injuries. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013
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