Alcohol-based nasal antiseptics have recently been developed as an alternative to
antibiotics. With the emergence of antibiotic resistant organisms and an effort towards
antibiotic stewardship, the use of topical antiseptics for nasal decolonization of
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) has become a subject of interest in healthcare.
This study evaluated the antimicrobial efficacy of an alcohol-based antiseptic nasal
swab for the reduction of S. aureus and total bacteria in the nares of human subjects.
Baseline samples were taken by swabbing both nares and pooling the samples. The S.
aureus and total bacteria levels were determined by plating the samples on HardyCHROM™
and/or Tryptic Soy Agar for 24 and 48 hours respectively. Subjects had both nares
randomly treated with a test (62% Ethanol) or control (Saline) nasal swab. Bacterial
samples were taken from both nares 30 seconds post-application. S. aureus and total
bacteria levels were similarly determined. Reductions in bacterial counts were calculated
for each subject by subtracting the CFUs after treatment from the baseline CFUs.
Data from 58 subjects (38 test and 20 control) who were screened for ≥ 3.7 log10 colony
forming units (CFUs) of S. aureus and total bacteria was analyzed. Antiseptic treatment
reduced S. aureus colony forming units from baseline by 98.8% compared to a 39.7%
reduction in nares treated with the control swab. Antiseptic treatment reduced total
bacteria colony forming units from baseline by 91.9% compared to a 32.4% reduction
in nares treated with the control swab.
This alcohol-based antiseptic was shown to be effective in reducing S. aureus and
total bacteria levels in the human nares after only one application. Nasal decolonization
with alcohol-based antiseptic swabs may provide an effective and safe alternative
to povidone-iodine (PVP) or antibiotic treatment to reduce nasal bacterial levels.
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