Pharmaceutical Research

, Volume 30, Issue 7, pp 1896–1905

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

DOI: 10.1007/s11095-013-1032-5

Cite this article as:
Judd, A.M., Scurr, D.J., Heylings, J.R. et al. Pharm Res (2013) 30: 1896. doi:10.1007/s11095-013-1032-5



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 

Supplementary material

11095_2013_1032_MOESM1_ESM.doc (160 kb)
Figure 7ToF-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)

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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