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May 1961

The Antifungal Effect of 70% Ethyl Alcohol: A Laboratory Study

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, State University of New York College of Medicine at New York City, Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Arch Dermatol. 1961;83(5):803-805. doi:10.1001/archderm.1961.01580110091014

Cleaning of the skin, hair, and nails with 70% ethyl alcohol is a generally accepted method of decontaminating lesions prior to the collection of material for fungus cultures. The use of alcohol at this concentration is based on the assumption that its relatively high bactericidal index but low fungicidal index aids in preparing pure fungus cultures without interfering in the exactness of the cultural tests.1-3 There are no known experimental data, however, to justify this assumption. On the contrary, 2 observations recorded in the literature suggest that reliance on the presumable inefficiency of ethyl alcohol as an antifungal agent is not entirely warranted. Emmons, in 1933, investigating the fungicidal effect of common skin disinfectants, observed that a 30-minute exposure to 85% ethyl alcohol was lethal to spores of Trichophyton gypseum.4 Spaulding (1939), in studying chemical sterilization of surgical instruments, noted that Candida albicans did not grow after a

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