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April 1960

Antibacterial Activity of Weak Solutions of Aluminum Salts

Author Affiliations


From The Dermatological Research Laboratories of the Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

AMA Arch Derm. 1960;81(4):565-569. doi:10.1001/archderm.1960.03730040069013

It was as early as 1857 that Burow1 first recommended a weak solution of aluminum acetate as a wet dressing for the treatment of numerous cutaneous diseases. He had previously learned from a chemist that this aluminum salt preserved certain organic materials used in the manufacture of sugar. Since Pasteur's classical discoveries were made between 1860 and 1865, Burow could not have known that the pharmacological effectiveness of aluminum acetate depended even in part on antibacterial action. By the early part of the twentieth century, Burow's solution was frequently used in the treatment of diseases of bacterial origin, such as furunculosis.2 In more recent years, the antibacterial property of Burow's solution is seldom mentioned in the literature, and its pharmacological effect is attributed to astringent and buffer action.

Kionka3 reported that a 20% solution of a mixture of aluminum lactate and tartrate killed streptococci in 5 minutes.

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