Background: Clean wounds are a frequent occurrence in the medical field and medical providers provide varied advice for wound care. Topical antibacterial ointments are commonly used to facilitate wound healing in patients with these types of wounds. Topical antibacterial ointments have been shown to cause allergic contact dermatitis, may cause an increase in antibiotic resistance, and may be equally efficacious when compared to petrolatum-based ointments for healing clean wounds.
Method: An exhaustive search of available medical literature was performed using Medline, CINHAL, and Cochrane databases. Search terms were: antibacterial agents, wound healing, and petrolatum. Articles were limited to humans and English language only. Studies were excluded if wounds were not clean, the study was not performed in a double blinded fashion, or if the study was not performed in the last 20 years.
Results: Four studies were found through the literature search after inclusion and exclusion criteria were met. All studies found that petrolatum-based ointments were as efficacious in the healing of clean wounds as antibacterial agents. Two of the studies had occurrences of allergic contact dermatitis.
Conclusion: Current studies suggest that petrolatum-based ointments are equally effective in healing clean wounds when compared to antibiotic based ointments. Using an antibiotic ointment does not decrease the rate of infection and puts patients at risk for allergic contact dermatitis and antibiotic resistance.
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