Dermatologic evaluation of yeast, tyrothricin, chlorophyll and nitrofurazone.
Johnson, H. 1948. Arch. Dermatol. Syph. 57:348-351
Background: Dermatologists have a number of powerful drugs at their disposal to treat infections of the skin. Generally speaking, however, the more powerful the drug, the worse the side effects are for the patient. Researchers in the 1940s were concerned about the risks that antibiotic creams would pose to skin, most in terms of allergic reactions, if used over time. In the present study, Dr. Johnson examined several alternatives to penicillin cream; we focus on his report on chlorophyll.
Clinical Trial: A dermatologist in Hawaii compared the efficacy and safety of several substances in the treatment of skin disorders. The goal of the research was to describe alternatives to creams made of penicillin or sulfonamide antibiotics. Even by 1948 researchers were concerned about the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria. Also, hypersensitivity reactions were common (people were developing allergies to antibiotic creams). Dr. Johnson examined yeast, tyrothricin, nitrofurazone, and chlorophyll as potential substances to treat superficial skin infections. He found that chlorophyll (actually a product called Chlorezium, which is a water-based plant extract) offered a “unique physiological approach” among the products tested and compared to antibiotic creams. He described it as a “bland, non-toxic, cell-stimulating biotherapeutic agent.” The chlorophyll product was most effective in treating contact and atopic eczema and was “amazingly healing and soothing to injured epithelium” after burn injury. The chlorophyll product was slightly less effective than penicillin cream for treating skin infections (only 74% of patients responded to chlorophyll cream).
Conclusion: The water-soluble plant extract used in this study was a remarkably safe and soothing topical agent that was highly effective in the treatment of burns and eczema and moderately effective in the treatment of skin infections.