Original Article

Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery

, Volume 394, Issue 1, pp 151-157

First online:

Transdermal resorption of an ethanol- and 2-propanol-containing skin disinfectant

  • Martin Hartwig KirschnerAffiliated withB.Braun Melsungen AG
  • , Reinhold Andreas LangAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of Munich, Klinikum Großhadern Email author 
  • , Burkhard BreuerAffiliated withProverum GmbH
  • , Marion BreuerAffiliated withProverum GmbH
  • , Corinna Schulze GronoverAffiliated withProverum GmbH
  • , Thomas ZwingersAffiliated withEstimate GmbH
  • , Johannes Georg BöttrichAffiliated withB.Braun Medical AG
  • , Andreas ArndtAffiliated withB.Braun Medical AG
  • , Ute BrauerAffiliated withB.Braun Melsungen AG
    • , Matthias HintzpeterAffiliated withB.Braun Melsungen AG
    • , Marc-Alexander BurmeisterAffiliated withB.Braun Melsungen AG
    • , Jan-Dirk FauteckAffiliated withProverum GmbH

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Background and aims

Ethanol- or 2-propanol-containing disinfectant agents are widely used in medical practice, particularly in the surgical environment. It was the primary objective of this phase I study to comparatively investigate the transdermal resorption of ethanol and 2-propanol within 1 h after dermal application of the two agents as single preparations and a commercial product containing both alcohols in combination, respectively. The secondary objective was to examine whether a mutual influence of the two alcohols in combination exists.

Materials and methods

Following the double-blind, randomized, three-times cross-over design for this clinical trial, 20 ml of three different alcohol-containing disinfectants were applied on a 200-cm2 gauze swab on skin areas, identical in size and location, of 14 healthy volunteers for 10 min to investigate the absorption rate of ethanol and 2-propanol with special focus on the question whether the two alcohols might influence each other’s absorption rate when being applied in combination.


No clinically relevant enhancement of dermal absorption, with respect to ethanol and 2-propanol, could be observed within 1 h after application, neither when used as single preparations, nor in combination.


Therefore, the use of ethanol- and 2-propanol-containing disinfectants in the medical environment can be considered as safe.


Ethanol 2-propanol Disinfectant Transdermal resorption