Direct-current bactericidal effect on intact skin.


Positive carbon-containing electrodes conveying 5 or more microA of constant direct current per cm2 showed bactericidal activity on intact back skin of 13 human subjects. This effect increased with the duration of stimulation up to a total surface bacterial kill at 20 h. When total current and current density were varied independently on 16 sites on the backs of eight subjects, the effect was dependent on current density, not on total current. Electrodes driven by similar voltages but which removed the electrochemical reaction from inoculated sites on the backs of three subjects failed to reduce the numbers of colony-forming units as compared with those sampled from control sites. This showed the bactericidal effect to be electrochemical in origin, probably mediated by local acidity generated at the surface of the positive carbon-containing electrodes. With an adhesive tape stripping technique on three sites on each of six subjects, it was determined that the effect extended into the epidermis of the human back. No effect was observed beneath negative or control electrodes under the same conditions.

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