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May 1933


Author Affiliations

From the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Arch Surg. 1933;26(5):901-908. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1933.01170050171010

The object of this study has been to evaluate by a new method the action of normal human skin on bacteria. The method used by previous workers has consisted essentially of applying bacteria to skin and subsequently culturing the skin at different times. Although different workers have made similar observations with this method, unfortunately there has been marked disagreement in regard to the interpretation of the results. On the one hand, Arnold, Gustafson and their associates in a series of papers1 believed that they showed that the disappearance of bacteria from the skin is due to its self-sterilizing action. Norton and Novy,2 on the other hand, although confirming the rapid disappearance of organisms from the skin, believe that this is not due to any inherent germicidal action of the skin, but rather to drying. The subject is one of importance to surgeons and others, and it has seemed

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