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Dakin’s Solution: An Innovative Approach to Biofilm Wound Treatment

A biofilm is a complex structure formed by microorganisms, like bacteria, that stick to one another and become embedded on the surface of some wounds. As the microorganisms increase, they form a difficult-to-penetrate protective shell that is tenacious, complex, and increasingly hard-to-treat.

What makes biofilm particularly dangerous is its resistance to antibiotics. An established biofilm in a wound can be up to 1,000 times more resistant to germicidal treatments than bacteria not growing within the protective film. That persistence makes biofilm a major contributor to chronic infections and wounds that won’t heal, and a significant challenge in the wound care field.

Antibiotic-resistant biofilm is more prevalent than you might think

While many everyday wounds heal on their own with little or no special treatment needed, even small wounds that form a biofilm can require hospitalization. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that over 65% of wounds that require hospital intervention are caused by biofilms that disrupt the healing process.

Even more alarming, the National Institute of Health estimates this number may be closer to 80%. The severity of these figures underscores the necessity for an effective and timely biofilm treatment strategy.

Key types of biofilm

There are several types of biofilm that can form on the surface of some wounds. Three that pose a particular challenge to medical professionals include Acinetobacter baumannii, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. 

Acinetobacter baumannii

Acinetobacter baumannii is a well-known contributor to nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections. This microorganism has the ability to survive on dry surfaces and medical equipment for 6-25 days, or up to four full months for particularly virulent strains.

Coming into contact with A. baumannii can cause a variety of infections, including pneumonia, meningitis, and wound biofilm. In immunocompromised patients, in particular, A. baumannii can cause life-threatening wound complications.

This organism also has a remarkable propensity to acquire resistance to a wide range of antimicrobial agents and antibiotics, which makes it difficult to eradicate A. baumannii with disinfectants or medications. In one study of a particularly extreme hospital outbreak, it took drastic measures, including closing the hospital and extensively disinfecting every surface of the environment, to eradicate the bacteria.

Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus, also known as “staph,” is a type of bacteria often found on the skin or in the nasal passages of healthy individuals. Usually, this bacteria is harmless. However, if it breaches the surface of the skin or develops in a wound, biofilm treatment may be necessary.

In addition to forming a biofilm on the skin, staph infections can spread to a patient’s joints, bones, lungs, heart, and bloodstream. Once there, the infection can be particularly difficult to treat, as a growing number of staph strains are now antibiotic-resistant.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one of the most common—and complex—examples of a hard-to-treat staph infection that complicates wound treatment and healing. Often found in nursing homes and dialysis centers, MRSA can quickly spread across the facility, as MRSA-carrying health care workers come into contact with patients, or patients contact one another.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common form of bacteria found in soil and water. When it comes into contact with a wound, it can quickly form a multi-drug-resistant biofilm on the skin, and cause a serious infection that spreads to the blood and lungs.

In a hospital setting, P. aeruginosa can spread from person to person via contaminated hands, equipment, or surfaces, where it can form an antibiotic-resistant biofilm that slows or reverses wound healing. Post-surgery and ICU patients are particularly susceptible to this form of biofilm wound.

In 2017, the CDC conducted an advanced study of P. aeruginosa and other antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. The study revealed that some forms of P. aeruginosa are now resistant to nearly all forms of antibiotics. And while the number of annual confirmed P. aeruginosa infections has been decreasing over the past few years, there were still over 32,000 reported cases in 2017—leading to an estimated 2,700 deaths.

How Dakin’s Solution is used in biofilm treatment

The body’s immune system naturally produces hypochlorous acid (HOCI) to trigger a range of harmful effects against invading and infecting cells. This natural response is highly effective against a variety of bacterial, viral, and fungal pathogens. That’s what makes sodium hypochlorite solutions that produce HOCI, like Dakin’s wound care solutions, particularly effective at wound management and biofilm treatment.

In a study measuring sodium hypochlorite’s ability to kill biofilm-forming microorganisms, in the right concentration, the solution was shown to kill all microorganisms studied in less than one minute. For P. aeruginosa specifically, a 1/16 dilution of HOCI killed the bacteria in just 12 seconds.

In another independent study, Dakin’s wound care solutions were shown to be effective against a broad spectrum of biofilm-forming bacteria, including P. aeruginosa and MRSA. Even the weakest Dakin’s formulation, Dakin’s Wound Cleanser, effectively killed at least 99.99999% of MRSA and  vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) in only 30 seconds.

While the exact mechanism by which sodium hypochlorite combats wound infections is not yet fully understood, it is believed that the hypochlorous acid created when Dakin’s wound care solutions react with water effectively aids in biofilm treatment—eradicating the bacteria within seconds, without the need for antibiotics, alcohol, or steroids.

Plus, unlike more potent germicidal solutions like iodine or carbolic acids, which damage both invading infections and healthy living tissue, Dakin’s Wound Cleanser and Wound Cleanser Pro don’t harm living cells—and no Dakin’s formulation loses effectiveness in the presence of blood serum.

For an effective, non-irritating, affordable biofilm treatment solution, get Dakin’s

Dakin’s wound care solutions are gentle on the skin, but tough on biofilm, bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and molds—for healthy, balanced healing.

To order Dakin’s for your patients or yourself:

Have questions about our line of wound care products? Contact our team.