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Effects of disinfectants and detergents on skin irritation

Authors

  • Caroline M. Slotosch,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Dermatology, Philipp-University, Marburg
      Dr med. Caroline Slotosch
      Department of Dermatology
      Philipp-University
      Deutschhausstr. 9
      D-35033 Marburg
      Germany
      Tel: +49 6421 2862900
      Fax: +49 6421 2862898
      e-mail: weimerc@med.uni-marburg.de
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  • Günter Kampf,

    1. BODE Chemie GmbH & Co. KG, Scientific Affairs, Hamburg
    2. Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University, Greifswald
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  • Harald Löffler

    1. Department of Dermatology, Philipp-University, Marburg
    2. Department of Dermatology, SLK-Hospital, Heilbronn, Germany
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Dr med. Caroline Slotosch
Department of Dermatology
Philipp-University
Deutschhausstr. 9
D-35033 Marburg
Germany
Tel: +49 6421 2862900
Fax: +49 6421 2862898
e-mail: weimerc@med.uni-marburg.de

Abstract

We investigated the biological response of regular human skin to alcohol-based disinfectants and detergents in a repetitive test design. Using non-invasive diagnostic tools such as transepidermal water loss, laser-Doppler flowmetry and corneometry, we quantified the irritative effects of a propanol-based hand disinfectant (Sterillium®), its propanol mixture (2-propanol 45% w/w and 1-propanol 30% w/w), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) 0.5% and distilled water. The substances were applied in a 2-D patch test in a repetitive occlusive test design to the back. Additionally, we performed a wash test on the forearms that was supposed to mimic the skin affection in the normal daily routine of health care workers. In this controlled half-side test design, we included the single application of the hand rub, SLS 0.5% and water as well as a tandem application of the same substances. Patch test and wash test showed similar results. The alcohol-based test preparations showed minimal irritation rather comparable to the application of water. However, the detergent SLS produced stronger barrier disruption, erythema and dryness than the alcohol-based preparations. There was no additional irritation at the combined use of SLS and disinfectants. By contrary, there was even a decrease in barrier disruption and erythema induced by the tandem application of SLS followed by alcohol-based disinfection compared with the use of SLS alone. These findings show a less irritant effect of alcohol-based disinfectants on the skin than detergents. Our study shows that there is no summation of irritating effects of a common detergent and propanol and that the combination of washing and disinfection has a rather protective aspect compared with washing alone.

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