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Skin antisepsis in the neonate: what should we use?

Ponnusamy, Vennilaa; Venkatesh, Vidheyab; Clarke, Paula

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: June 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 3 - p 244–250
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000064

Purpose of review Neonates in intensive care are more susceptible to sepsis. Infection is commonly acquired via the transcutaneous portal. It is necessary to identify the most effective yet safest topical antiseptics for use in neonates to reduce nosocomial sepsis.

Recent findings Recent national surveys indicate that a wide range of topical antiseptic preparations are used in the neonatal nursery. There are very few comparative studies in neonates and no robust evidence in favour of any particular antiseptic. There are significant safety and potential toxicity issues for neonates with all the commonly used antiseptics, particularly in very small immature babies. There are no convincing roles for routine application of emollient creams on the skin, topical antiseptics on the umbilical stump, or maternal vaginal washes with chlorhexidine for the prevention of neonatal infection.

Summary Large multicentre trials are needed to determine the optimal antiseptic to use for neonates undergoing intensive care, especially for extremely preterm infants.

aNeonatal Unit, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Norwich, Norfolk,

bNeonatal Unit, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK

Correspondence to Dr Paul Clarke, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Norwich, NR4 7UY, UK. Tel: +44 1603 286337; fax: +44 1603 287584; e-mail:

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.