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A gloved-hand method is presented for evaluating the interaction of antimicrobial agents with the normal resident bacterial flora of human skin. One of the key features of the experimental model is a simplified technique for sampling the skin, which involves the addition of eluting fluid to the gloved hand. As with other skin sampling techniques, the number of bacteria recovered from the hands showed considerable variation from subject to subject. However, no significant differences were observed between the numbers of bacteria recovered from the right and left hands of individual subjects. The mean number of bacteria recovered from the hand before and after washing with nonmedicated soap was consistent and reproducible over a period of at least 5 consecutive days. The number of recoverable bacteria from the hand was greatly reduced by a single treatment with a surgical scrub preparation containing hexachlorophene. The extent of skin degerming achieved was little affected by the use of a surgical brush, and was maximal at approximately 30 min after contact with the hexachlorophene-containing formulation. It was determined that the level of transient bacteria on the hands could be controlled by a simple wash with nonmedicated soap, resulting in a stabilized base-line level from which treatment interactions with the resident microflora could be measured more precisely. The basic elements of the method presented fulfill the requirements of a satisfactory experimental model for the in vivo evaluation of skin-degerming agents on the hand. The selection of appropriate experimental designs allows treatment comparisons to be made with a high degree of statistical confidence.