Journal Article

A review of the microbiology, antibiotic usage and resistance in chronic skin wounds

R. S. Howell-Jones, M. J. Wilson, K. E. Hill, A. J. Howard, P. E. Price and D. W. Thomas

in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Published on behalf of British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Volume 55, issue 2, pages 143-149
Published in print February 2005 | ISSN: 0305-7453
Published online February 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2091 | DOI:
A review of the microbiology, antibiotic usage and resistance in chronic skin wounds

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  • Medical Oncology
  • Critical Care


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Chronic leg and foot wounds represent an increasing burden to healthcare systems as the age of the population increases. The deep dermal tissues of all chronic wounds harbour microorganisms, however, the precise interaction between microbes in the wounds and impaired healing is unknown. With regard to antibiotic therapy, there is a lack of evidence concerning its effectiveness, optimal regimens or clinical indications for treatment. Despite this lack of evidence, antibiotics are frequently a feature of the management of chronic wounds and these patients receive significantly more antibiotic prescriptions (both systemic and topical) than age and sex-matched patients. Current guidelines for antibiotic prescribing for such wounds are often based on expert opinion rather than scientific fact and may present difficulties in interpretation and implementation to the clinician. Although the increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance is widely recognized, the relationships between antibiotic resistance, chronic wound microbiology and rationales for antibiotic therapy have yet to be determined. This review discusses the role of microbes in chronic wounds from a clinical perspective with particular focus on the occurrence of bacteria and their impact on such wounds. The evidence and role of antibiotics in the treatment of such wounds are outlined and current practice of antibiotic usage for chronic wounds in the primary care setting described. The implications of antibiotic usage with regard to antibiotic resistance are also considered.

Keywords: wound infection; wound healing; antibacterials

Journal Article.  5810 words. 

Subjects: Medical Oncology ; Critical Care

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