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April 4, 1959


Author Affiliations

New York

From the Department of Dermatology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University and the Dermatology Service, Presbyterian Hospital (Dr. Nelson) and from the Department of Dermatology and Syphilology, New York University Post-Graduate Medical School and the Skin and Cancer Unit of the University Hospital (Dr. Sulzberger).

JAMA. 1959;169(14):1626-1627. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.73000310009016

There seems to be essential agreement that antibiotics generally useful in the treatment of systemic infections should not be used in cosmetics. The risk of sensitization of cosmetic users to such antibiotics could be dangerous. Moreover, and perhaps even more important, the widespread use of cosmetics containing these antibiotics would be unwise because of the possible increased incidence of acquired microbial resistance to such drugs. Therefore, under no circumstances should the antibiotics used in cosmetics include agents of this type.

It has been proposed that agents such as bacitracin, neomycin, polymyxin, and tyrothricin be permitted in cosmetic preparations. Through their use, antimicrobial action would be secured against a wide spectrum of micro-organisms, and the antibiotics used would rarely be required later on for the treatment of systemic infections.

At the present time, the foregoing antibiotics seem to have a relatively low potential for sensitization when applied to the skin. By