Pharmaceutical Research

, Volume 30, Issue 7, pp 1896–1905 | Cite as

Distribution and Visualisation of Chlorhexidine Within the Skin Using ToF-SIMS: A Potential Platform for the Design of More Efficacious Skin Antiseptic Formulations

  • Amy M. Judd
  • David J. Scurr
  • Jon R. Heylings
  • Ka-Wai Wan
  • Gary P. Moss
Research Paper



In order to increase the efficacy of a topically applied antimicrobial compound the permeation profile, localisation and mechanism of action within the skin must first be investigated.


Time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) was used to visualise the distribution of a conventional antimicrobial compound, chlorhexidine digluconate, within porcine skin without the need for laborious preparation, radio-labels or fluorescent tags.


High mass resolution and high spatial resolution mass spectra and chemical images were achieved when analysing chlorhexidine digluconate treated cryo-sectioned porcine skin sections by ToF-SIMS. The distribution of chlorhexidine digluconate was mapped throughout the skin sections and our studies indicate that the compound appears to be localised within the stratum corneum. In parallel, tape strips taken from chlorhexidine digluconate treated porcine skin were analysed by ToF-SIMS to support the distribution profile obtained from the skin sections.


ToF-SIMS can act as a powerful complementary technique to map the distribution of topically applied compounds within the skin.


antisepsis chlorhexidine imaging mass spectrometry skin permeation ToF-SIMS 



This work was funded by an EPSRC industrial CASE award in collaboration with Dermal Technology Laboratory Ltd. The authors would like to acknowledge Professor Steve Chapman for his assistance and David Griffiths for his help and advice with the skin cryo-sectioning and histology. The authors state no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11095_2013_1032_MOESM1_ESM.doc (160 kb)
Figure 7 ToF-SIMS images taken in burst alignment mode of the total ion content liberated from the skin sample of 2% CHG (w/v) dosed porcine dermatomed skin (400 μm thick). The blue square demonstrates which region of the stratum corneum was magnified to enhance the visualisation of the ion distribution. MC = maximum ion count per pixel and TC = total ion count for the specific ion of interest. (DOC 160 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy M. Judd
    • 1
  • David J. Scurr
    • 2
  • Jon R. Heylings
    • 3
  • Ka-Wai Wan
    • 4
  • Gary P. Moss
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PharmacyKeele UniversityKeeleUK
  2. 2.School of PharmacyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  3. 3.Dermal Technology Laboratory Ltd.MedIC4, Keele University Science ParkKeeleUK
  4. 4.School of Pharmacy and Biomedical SciencesUniversity of Central LancashirePrestonUK

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