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In vivo assessment of antimicrobial-treated textiles on skin microflora

Nancy Walter (Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Rachel H. McQueen (Department of Human Ecology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)
Monika Keelan (Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)

International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology

ISSN: 0955-6222

Article publication date: 29 July 2014




Antimicrobials may be incorporated into garments to protect the textiles, control malodour or to potentially reduce the spread of infection. Yet still not well understood is how antimicrobial-treated textiles may influence a person's resident microflora during wear, as limited in vivo testing has previously been carried out. The purpose of this paper is to assess whether normal skin microflora was altered as a result of contact with selected antimicrobial-treated fabrics.


Three selected antimicrobial-treated fabrics (i.e. Fabric 1: triclosan; Fabric 2: zinc pyrithione derivative; and Fabric 3: silver chloride and titanium dioxide) were placed on the forearm of participants (n=19). Bacterial counts obtained under treated and untreated fabrics following 24 hours of occlusion were compared. The antimicrobial efficacy of fabrics displayed in vitro was also compared with the activity displayed in vivo.


Two of the three fabrics (Fabrics 1 and 2) reduced bacterial populations on the skin following 24 hours occlusion compared to the matched control fabrics (Fabric 1: p<0.05; Fabric 2: p<0.001). Whereas, following occlusion with Fabric 3 bacterial populations were not significantly different than the matched control. The present study demonstrated that in vitro assessment of antimicrobial capacities of fabrics do not necessarily predict the effects of such fabrics during wear.


The paper highlights that in vivo studies are a necessary and important tool for understanding the interactions of an antimicrobial-treated fabric with the wearer's skin. As well, the new method developed can be used by other researchers to examine the potential impact on skin microflora due to contact with antimicrobial-treated textiles.



This work was supported by the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Alberta (support for the Advancement of Scholarship (SAS)).


Walter, N., H. McQueen, R. and Keelan, M. (2014), "In vivo assessment of antimicrobial-treated textiles on skin microflora", International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 330-342.



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