How do we avoid sterilised wounds being colonised by pathogens?

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Nicola Cuti

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Nicola Cuti  asked the Naked Scientists:
It is now well known that benign bacteria living in and on us help protect us from pathogenic species.  Yet total sterilisation remains the rule for "cleaning" wounds, utensils and other surfaces to avoid infections, although we know the surfaces will be promptly recolonised by a range of bacteria (good and bad) present in the environment.

Are scientists working on solutions for protecting cleansed surfaces from pathogenic bacteria by purposely applying protective bacteria on the previously sterilised surfaces?

I'm thinking of skin creams containing a variety of benign bacteria to apply after washing hands, or germ-filled sprays to apply on sterilised surfaces in hospitals, for example.

The only example of a present use of the principle is the  processing of milk into proactive yoghurt and a strain of bacteria sold in pharmacies in the specific purpose of recolonising the stomach after diarrhoea (called Bioflorin, here in Switzerland).

Thank you for your concern,

Thanks for your great podcast. I hope I'll hear the answer to my question some time soon!

Nicola Cuti

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 23/11/2010 19:30:02 by _system »


Offline Bored chemist

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There are a few points here.
I doubt anyone seriously tries to sterilise the skin round an injury- just killing most of the bugs and getting most of the dirt out will usually do the job. Sterilising skin is practically impossible.
We all have slightly different bacteria growing on our skins; what's "good" for you might not be "good" for me.
The rest of the skin will provide a reservoir of your own personal "good" bacteria for free and perfectly matched to your needs.
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