Evaluation of antimicrobial persistent activity of alcohol-based hand antiseptics against bacterial contamination

  • R. M. López-Gigosos
  • E. Mariscal-López
  • M. Gutierrez-Bedmar
  • A. García-Rodriguez
  • A. Mariscal
Original Article


The purpose of this study was to evaluate persistent activity of three alcohol-based antiseptics widely used in the clinical routine containing chlorhexidine, triclosan or mecetronium after hand disinfection. Four tests were used to evaluate the antimicrobial activity of antiseptics on: (i) resident microbiota; (ii) nutrient agar plates (NAP) subsequently inoculated with a test organism; and transient microbiota acquired by contact with dry hands (iii), or (iv) a wet inert surface that had been artificially contaminated. Four reference strains (Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis) and an Acinetobacter baumannii strain responsible for a hospital outbreak were used as transient microbiota. Antimicrobial activity was calculated according to the CFUs reduction by reference to non-disinfected control hands. The antiseptics were applied according to European Standard EN1500. Solutions containing chlorhexidine or triclosan showed some persistent effects on transient microbiota on inert humid surfaces and NAP, but not on contaminated dry hands. Solutions containing mecetronium showed no persistent effect on transient flora in any of the trials. All alcohol-based antiseptics tested were more effective against resident flora than soap. No persistent activity was observed for A. baumannii in any of the trials. Chlorhexidine and triclosan are preferred when an antiseptic with persistent activity is desired, but a moist environment appears to be necessary for that antibacterial activity. Accordingly, relevant conclusions regarding the persistent activity of antiseptics for clinical practice and protection against bacterial contamination cannot be derived from this study for the alcoholic solutions tested.


Chlorhexidine Triclosan Persistent Activity Persistent Effect Hand Sanitizer 
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Clinical strains were kindly provided by the Department of Microbiology, Virgen de la Victoria University Hospital, Malaga, Spain, and reference strains by the Colección Española de Cultivos Tipo, Valencia, Spain.

Compliance with ethical standards


This work was supported by the Consejeria de Educacion of the Junta de Andalucia (grant BIO249) and the University of Malaga, Malaga, Spain.

Conflict of interest

RM.L-G, E.M-L, M.G-B, A.G-R and A.M declare no competing interests.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards approved by Malaga University Ethical Committee and with the Declaration of Helsinki and its later revisions or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public Health and Psychiatry, Faculty of MedicineMalaga UniversityMalagaSpain

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