Highly diluted acetic acid, an active ingredient of household vinegar, could be an effective alternative agent to prevent infection and kill bacteria found in burn wounds, says new research.
Burns are a common traumatic injury and prone to becoming infected due to loss of a normal skin barrier.
Local infection of the burn wound and subsequent sepsis (blood poisoning) are key concerns for patients, with sepsis the leading cause of death among patients with burn wounds.
“As resistance to antibiotics grows, we need to find ways to replace them with alternative topical agents that can kill bacteria and help our burns patients,” explained one of the researchers Fenella Halstead from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, Britain.
“The evidence in this study offers great promise to be a cheap and effective measure to do just that,” Halstead noted.
Infections of burn wounds are difficult to treat with traditional antibiotics as they do not effectively reach the wound, and the infecting organisms are often highly antibiotic resistant.
The study demonstrated that low concentrations of acetic acid can be used to clear the bacteria, and therefore could be used as alternatives to topical (surface applied) antimicrobials and traditional antimicrobial dressings for preventing bacterial colonisation of burns.
The finding that it is effective at far lower concentrations than previously thought therefore offers hope for the development of novel treatments.
However, the researchers stressed that people should not self-apply vinegar in the case of a burn and that they should go to hospital as normal. The acetic acid treatment would only be required in serious burns where infection can become a problem.