It is generally thought that the skin is able in some manner to destroy bacterial organisms with which it comes in contact. This ability has been referred to as the "self-disinfecting power of the skin" by Arnold and his co-workers1 (1930).
Colebrook2 (1930) observed the disappearance of exogenous bacteria from the surface of normal skin and suggested that it may be due to (1) desiccation, (2) activity of a lysozyme or (3) concentration of salts of sweat. He believed that neither desiccation nor lysozyme is an important factor but that concentration of salts of sweat may be a factor. Bryan and Mallmann3 (1933) expressed the opinion that desiccation plays an important role, as did also Norton and Novy4 (1931). Meleney5 (1927) stated that the bactericidal action of sweat and of sebaceous glands is of relatively little importance. Usher6 (1928) showed that sweat is a
MEYER E, VICHER EE. GERMICIDAL ACTIVITY OF ALCOHOL, HYDROCHLORIC ACID AND ALUMINUM POTASSIUM SULFATETHEIR EFFECT ON CUTANEOUS FLORA. Arch Surg. 1943;47(5):468–477. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1943.01220170051004